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gary noland

New Fiction

for Narrator and Musicians

Op. 21

by Gary Noland


[Enter PROFESSOR ANARCH ZIGZAGOVICH. Steps up to podium, clears throat.]

      Good evening, Ladies and Gentlemen. Permit me to introduce myself. I am Professor Anarch Zigzagovich of Pimpleton State University. I would like to express to you what an honor and privilege it is to be asked to join this preclared panel as a guest speaker. Notwithstanding my own discreet contributions to Earth Studies, I feel that the late Professor Vladislav Zorchgevunk deserves full credit for his conscientiously painstaking decryption of that illuminating document, discovered many sessions ago, we now advert to as The Pipsqueak Scrolls.
      As most of you already know, these primaeval memoirs were first published in the ISGAA Quinarily: Journal of Archaeological Research on Hendecember 42nd, 5310, and have since been reissued on unride pretexts in a labyrinth of scholarly journals with Professor Zorchgevunk’s original proem fully intact. My role here is more that of an historiographer insofar as I have selected particulars based on my own critical examination of sources and have assailed to synthesize my own critical commentaries, whensoever applicable, into Zorchgevunk’s transliteration of the urtext.
      For the sake of maintaining the narrative flow of this conflation, I have interpolated explanatory notes (based on extensive research by creditable schools of scholars) into the body of the urtext. This is for the sake of shedding light on the anthropometric milieu of the epoch during which these memoirs were composed.
      The most advanced radiocarbon dating techniques at our disposal indicate this screed was committed to a quasihemidemisemiream (or just upwards of a quire) of 600-pound super smooth, brilliant white methane-free foolscap by a twenty-first century college professor of unknown pedigree named Ernest Klein, between 7:07 and 8:55 PM, Greenwich Mean Time, on the date inscribed thereupon (April 14th, 2057), with an error margin of four minutes and thirty-three seconds.
      And now, Dandies and Gentledames, permit me to share with you the amended version of Professor Zorchgevunk’s compendious proem to Klein’s apologue as it originally appeared in the Vicember 75th, 5313 edition of the ISGAA Quinarily.


      (Quote.) “The memoirs that follow (written on thin, flat, flexible sheets of material comprised of thousands of tiny wood, rag and straw fibers) were discovered some four summers ago in a potsherd dated from the Late VCR Period during excavatory expeditions inside that wheel of cloudlike patches and shining globules of gas colloquially known as ‘The Milky Way.’ Drawing on recent improvements in magnification and image-enhancement technologies, as well as a vigorously developing knowledge of prototerrestrial tongues, my team of scientists and linguistic scholars was able to piece together and unpuzzle the cryptic penscript scrawled upon the yellowed parchments we had serendipitously discovered in the course of our excavatory undertakings. Scholars of the Interspiralgalactic Archaeological Association (ISGAA), of which I am current head, are pleased to announce that this landmark finding has provided paleoanthropometrists, astroarchaeologists, scatovictimologists and others with illuminating insights into the lifestyles, behavior patterns and folkways of micro-civilizations thriving on and around planet Earth during the Late VCR Period, and may provide a valuable link towards empowering scientists and schoolmen alike to grapple with some of the ever-burning teleological issues (dysphemistically referred to as “bones of contention”) surrounding the Big Bang, Crunch, Bounce, Belch, Sneeze, Fart and Poop debates. My acclaimed team’s transliteration and translation of Professor Klein’s evocative narrative is hereinbelow set forth in full.” (Unquote.)
      And so, as you can keenly discern, Biddies and Gentlemen, Professor Zorchgevunk’s proem was succinct and to the point. Every single one of his postulations has heretofore been corroborated by science. When The Pipsqueak Scrolls were uncovered some hundred trimesters ago, their authenticity, as you may remember, was in serious dispute. Since that time, however, many of today’s most advanced scholars have reversed their polemics on the issue, and have thusgates come round to doggedly endorsing the document’s legitimacy. Yet, in despite of a stupendously overwhelming superabundance of incontestable archaeological evidence in support of its bonafideness, there are still many skeptics out there who presurmise The Pipsqueak Scrolls to be apocryphal. In a modest, all be rigorous, attempt to dispel such convictions, I shall presently recite for you the transiliteration (and translation) of Klein’s narrative, as hereinbefore described, segment by segment, with my own commentaries, based on the historical research of celebrated scholars of the period in question, interspersed therebetween.
      Here then follows the first segment of the text.

by Ernest Klein

      (Quote.) “I’m a shriveled-up, foul-smelling, decrepit old fart—one of the eldest surviving members of the human race (or that stock to which one may more fitly refer as ‘the plumeless genus of bipeds’)—on planet Earth. Just around the corner, I’m slated to cock up my toes from malignant tumors that are metastasizing into my mucus membranes and bronchial tubes—or so my illustrious leech has informed me. My ailing condition isn’t what presses me down, though. Indeed, I expect the death rattle to sound silvery and balsamic, like a cradlesong, when it finally gurgles upways into my gullet from the spit and snot that’s due, ere long, to flood inside my throat. In the event that this malaise becomes more than my flesh can withstand, I’ve prepped myself a soot cup of chloral hydrate to speedfully expedite, if necessary, my take-off into eternity. For thy, gentle dippers, I make bold to beg of thee not to miscount my intentions. I’m obstinately indisposed toward feeling antipathy for, or nursing any grudges against, my diminishing mortality. My life has been fair and productive, and on that account I’m gratefully thankful for the voluminous brevity of years I’ve been accorded.
      Although, as a general rule, I indulge seld penchants for lapses into futility, I thought it might nevertheless prove expedient to jot my memoirs down in the off chance that they are excavated subsequent to my departure. I shall thuswise afforce to describe the distressing turn of events that transpired pending the progressive sinkage into oblivion that befell not just my fool self but my redoubtable colleagues, road dogs and nephews thereto postnate to the summit of my salad days.

                                                                                                * * *

      I took note of the physiological changes in my students—albeit unconsciously at first, and not without having failed to give heed to the perplexing phenomena once the telltale seamarks had made themselves manifest—around the time of my second (or possibly third) year as a grad stude drudge at Harvard University.” (Unquote.)
      Pray bear with me, Jennies and Ladies’ Men, as I forbreak Klein’s narrative for a brief stound to put things into an historical perspective. For those of you unacquainted with evulged survivors’ accounts in point of the aforetold feudal institution, Harvard University was, according to extensive studies by Professor Theobald Phloink of T.I.T., a correctional academy for sons and daughters of the Underabused and Overindulged, located in the fortified post-mediaeval township of Cambridge-on-the-Charles, just northwest of the Black Bay ruins. If prisoners there failed to abide by the peculiar codes of “flexible ethics” that were doggedly enforced by intendants and their mounted patrols, they would be pressed, hung, gassed, trounced, lampooned and/or left out to dry in the stocks & trones of Harvard’s Yard, often in the insufferable mid-summer humidity for which New England was notour. The slogan “veritas” is believed to have been derived from the Polish phrase “Arbeit macht frei” (a direct transliteration of Dante’s “Abandon all hope ye who enter here”), epigraphs of which have been found inscribed on the gates of Harvard’s Yard and emblematized on its campus letterheads. A pictograph found on the east wall beside the third stall of the gent’s room in the subbasement of the Harvard Science Center suggests, howso, that this term may have been used as a cryptogram by the Harvard Resistance Movement in reference to a fuzzy feeling of apathy that was known to pervade that institution. Be that as it might, it should be pointed out here that only scant archaeological evidence has been uncovered to lend due credence to this hypothesis.
      And now that I’ve imparted to you an oblique hint of the social atmosphere under which our protagonist was obliged to operate, I shall resume where I left off with his story.
      (Quote.) “I had seen incoming classes of freshmen every year, and it wasn’t until the lattermost days of the twentieth century that I observed the younger students, in particular the coeds, becoming leggier and more statuesque in feature than their forerunners of fifteen to twenty years back. (Of course, I was more on the qui vive than most in respect to perpendicular distances, inasmuch as I’d been conscious since childhood of my own squatness of build relative to others.) And, when I brought such observations to the attention of my colleagues, with eyes wide shut they’d either drop the subject or dismiss it with a laugh, betraying no signs of disquiet at the foreboding inferences I’d drawn from reams of statistical evidence corroborating my worst suspicions—at least not until they, too, began to lose their sway in the department.
      At first, my students listened with rapt attention to my metaphysical discourses and treated me with a modicum of respect, but by the time of my sixth (and especially my seventh) year as a teaching fellow—at which point I was more at home with the material I taught, as well as more densely immerged in the compounding of my dissertation—it seemed they had either caught on more quickly to the substance of my talks, or had become more versatile at affecting that they had.” (Unquote.)
      Pray bear with me once again, Babies and Candymen, as I forbreak this line of thought to exposit here for a blink on the subject of “doctoral dissertations” (as they were thenadays yclept). According to a recent prelection delivered by Professor Druben Xeroxburger of the Taco Nova Institute, a “doctoral dissertation” was a lengthy and elaborate prayer of thanks compounded by grad stude drudges in mechanical obeisance to elliptical sets of arbitrary precepts laid down by self-constituted subcommittees of gerund-grinding dunces, dorbels and prigs, in which they—the grad stude drudges—eloquently expressed their everlasting indebtedness to their stuperiors for the moldering scraps of defective privities they’d accrued during their quinquennia-long bouts of sleep deprivation, social maladjustment, disassociation and involutional melancholia, in conjunction with recapitulative quixotic episodes of persecutory anxiety. Such spells of paranoia were highly infectious, as they induced pandemics of disconnection outthrough encompassing regiments of tight- and close-knit enclaves and exclaves.
      Having parceled out this tidbit, I shall, without further ado, sally forth into the fairy land of our doleful little hero’s jeremiad.
       (Quote.) “My students must have sensed somehow that I wasn’t as agile in catching on to their tricks as I’d been in earlier years with preterit strinds of greenies, suffer-mores, plutes and such; and this was at variance with the notion I had that, after having bounteously paid my dues, I should actually have acquired a more piquant, even transcending, eloquence in my terrain of expertise.
      It didn’t help matters that I had to stand on a scale to reach the blackboard. And it was especially mortifying when the more solicitous of my students, with their heads grazing the ceiling, would zealously volunteer (refusing to take ‘no’ for an answer) to chalk down the charts, graphs and equations I’d crookedly scribbled in my notepad (in semi-obliterated hieroglyphical entries only I was qualified to decrypt) upon the overest elevations of the blackboard, far beyond the myopic sphere of my accreasingly stinted tunnel vision. Quite naturally, on account of not having myself for many years been entirely unguilty of erroneously projecting the sort of ‘laid-back-dude’ persona that tends to attract flunks in search of easy marks, I couldn’t, in good conscience, hold my students’ avid overwillingness to assist me against them, as it was patently obvious that they—in the course of plucking my dingles to curry my favor—were genuinely assaying to be serviceable (especially seeing as what a strenuous strain it was on my neck and back to stretch both arms overhead whilst balancing tiptoe, crayons in hand, on a stack of cyclopaedia volumes heaped high atop of the scale’s uppermost step). The students would snatch the chalk from my little hands (bless their simple hearts) every time I had to illustrate some Mickey-Mouse concept for the benefit of those thereamong who were cerebrally, as we say, challenged.
      Owing thus to my learners’ breathless impatience to proffer me their aid, I was doomed by default to sneak into the classrooms late every night to expunge all the scribblements they’d scrawled on the bunemost reaches of the blackboards, lest there’d be some egregious tactical blunders my stuperiors would stumble upon wherefor, at some future date, I’d be held to account. Suffice it to say, I felt the pressure to hire, at my own expense, some beanpoles from outside the department to assist me in these corrective undertakings to warrant that everything would be spic and span prior to the advent of the pre-inspection committees.
      The pre-inspection committees, by the bye, consisted of several hundred symmetrically uniformed pencil geeks who’d march around campus in silent, overlapping squads during the weest possible hours of the morning (calculators on helixes, nerdpacks in dicky pockets, clipboards under armpits) drawing up in-depth statistical accounts and inferentially detailed analytical reports on the conditions of classrooms, cubbyholes, visitoriums and the rest. If, in the course of their noctavigations, anything, anything at all—even the twiggiest little tripenny figlet of a nignay—was found to be out of line, their reports and surveys would be filed expeditiously to the Office of the Deputy Provost. The Deputy Provost’s Adjuvant would need-force bring such discrepancies to the attent of the Vice Chair of the Ad Board. Members of the Ad Board were so incessantly preoccupied with examining such items that their cubicles would stay fluorescently illumed round the clock, and then some. These officiously steadfast functionaries would alternate long, drawn-out work-shifts with only a fleeting catnap here and there. Such fugitive winks of sleep, when snaffled, were accompanied by deep-furrowed frowns of affliction, and were oft times studiously dissimilated thru a severe compressing of the eyelids and crinkling of the nosebridge in order to make it seem as though the aforegiven functionaries were submitting themselves to adroit snatches of furiously intense concentration apropos of their specified incumbencies, gulling their immediate overseers therethrough into feigning that they—the functionaries (in their deferentially subordinate roles as underspurleathers to ominously influential middle-office affiliates emanating from the innermost echelons of the Deputy Provost’s furtively secretive, Teutonically efficient, time-blackened ‘Bureaus of Motherly Inquest,’ as they were styled)—were keenly alert when, in sooth, they were fast asleep (if only for a sec or two). Which accounted, in some measure, for the fixed adenoidal glazes in their demeans.

                                                                                                * * *

      It became especially discomfiting for me, two or three winters after the change of the millenium, when I was first granted tenure and had thenceforth to abide by stricter codes of professional ethics to preserve my good standing, and the ripe young coeds would sit at their desks cross- or (dog forbid!) open-legged in precariously tenuous accoutrements. My blinkers would meet them thighs- or hucks-on, affording me the unasked-for serendipity of copping ganders into their jumpers, dirndls, tutus, or whatever they happened to be wearing (or not, as the case may be), from whence I’d catch sight of the snog mounds of maidenbuff circumjacent to their unmentionables. This compelled me to alter the course of my gaze in perpetuum (for fear these coeds would be quick on the uptake to launch unfounded accusations against me apropos of my conduct in class, or better yet, incur disesteem upon my good reputation by branding me as one of those nefarious feeders of forbidden fruit whose mugs one sights in the tabloids every time one turns around), which made for an appearance of unfortunate fickleness on my part and induced me to mislay my increasingly tenuous upmanship over my students. I later resolved this crisis by wearing pedagoggles with mirrored lenses to class, which, in despite of concealing the preponderance of signifiers bearing unimpeachable testimony to my intemperate concupiscible pride, nevertheless failed to alleviate the distract and confounding suchness of my unfulfilled glandular affinities. In an effort to disentangle myself from this seeming insoluble dilemma, I wore stilts to class, and actually became quite adept at getting around on them. All the same, that was many moons agone, long before the growth plague had snowballed out of control.

                                                                                                * * *

      Eventually, I embarked upon the matrimonial sea with a colleague some eight years my junior. Unlike most women in her age set, she towered only six heads above me. Nowadays such double acts, in terms of vertical distance deviations, are by no means out of the ordinary. And yet, since the growth rates have ballooned exponentially to a much greater degree than of yore, a difference of eight years in age between newlyweds (let alone but one) makes for signally incompatible hookups. At best, sleeping partners can remain within socially acceptable parameters, mass-and-poundagewise (and therethrough avoid violating any civil or penal codes), if and when they diverge in oldness by just a week or two—but not a minute longer. Greater age differentials than that are magnanimously ill-advised and, as a matter of public policy, ruthlessly discouraged. Furtherover, the tonnage and size differentials between similarly aged subjects are forthwaxing on an almost hourly basis, which is one of the rudimental reasons why the decreed ‘Ages of Consent’ are, at every other breath, being redefined by legislative assemblies across the board. As a result, it is no longer legally permissable for, say, a twenty-one-and-three-eighths-year-old to have a love affair with a twenty-one-and-two-eighths-year-old without the elder of the infatuates eventually being arrested, tried, convicted and imprisoned as a predatorial offender. Every now and then these so-called offenders will get their necks cracked or be forced to take the ‘electric cure’ as a ‘tit’ for their ‘tats’ (or a ‘tat’ for their ‘tits,’ as the case may be). The pernicious bêtise of such laws becomes unconfutable the very instant one witnesses first-hand the actual size discrepancies between the parties in question. In the hypothetical case described above, the purported offender would in sooth pose little more of a ‘threat’ to the alleged victim than a mosquito-sized paramour that buzzes sweet nothings into the auditory apparatus of its dearly beloved—the sort of ‘threat’ that a well-synchronized swat could effectively subvert with no need whatso for all the penological bafflegab and legalistic mumbo-dumbo ordained by daft prima donnas and robot dignitaries sturdily ensconced in the dregs of the judicial bureaucracy. Which is why the vast majority of online dating services nowadays tend to focus their energy and resources on procuring testimoniums, affidavits, depositions, etc. avouching for the accuracy of their clients’ declared dates of birth (which, ifsoever possible, they nail down to the nanosecond) instead of taking heed of the more time-honored factors pertaining to a prospective couple’s ties of affection and compatibilities (i.e., social class, educational background, credit ratings, politico-religious affiliations, criminal records, ethnocultural roots, sexual perversions, and so on). For this reason, it is by no means out of the common to encounter fantastically incongruous couplings on the order of, say, ingordigious golddiggers who end up ankling up the aisles with out-of-pocket deadbeats or, say, professional performance artists from the Soho who land up joining the household brigade with devil scolders from the Bible Belt or, say, French social theorists who lecture at the Sorbonne who wind up going domestic with trailer park trash from Jay Country, etc. Once a splice is effectuated, parties from both sexes are imprevaricably grateful to find partners who match each other’s physical size, if nothing else.
      Because scientific and technological advancements in the medical and nutritional domains have produced bigger and healthier children (henceforwards referred to as ‘baby loomers’) and substantially reduced the infant mortality rate, they have also, unluckily, created some unforeseen glitches. Initially, a pronounced escalation in labor pains amongst women became manifest, but after a point mothers’ wombs in every clime (and their whole bodies in fact) evolved into mammoth eggshell-like integuments; their dermi, muscle fibers, entrails and bones would crack open when their offspring ‘pipped,’ so to speak, rendering a woman’s chance of surviving the throes of childbirth scant at best. This entailed the government-sanctioned super-insemination of younger and younger creatures, oft times well in advance of their ripening pubescence, by means of minimally invasive, accelerator-controlled, cyber-robotic phallicizers or—if stated as a preference in notarized affidavits signed by their legal guardians—thru the instrumentality of long-standing presciptive copulatory and/or fornicacious methodologies, since the growth-rate proliferation amongst children had by this time far superseded that of childbearing women. Eventually, it became impossible to ‘keep up with the Joneses,’ as it were, so foetuses were aborted straight upon conception and kept alive in mountainous incubators in the backlands of Lower Slobbovia and beyond.
      A few years later, thanks to the miracles of modern medicine, a surgical procedure was developed whereby genetrices could be disengaged from their foetuses, and the foetuses—more suave and sophisticate in carriage than their second-millenium counterparts—would occasionally be given the option of remaining attached to their genetrices (especially in cases where the ‘on-clings,’ as they were styled, were deemed to be mentally deranged or incompetent) so as to retain them as motile (or elsewise disboweled, condited, taxidermed and/or mummified) trophies they could show off to their playmates. For a time ‘motherdolls’ became all the rage amongst teenyboppers and, consequently, objects of the ‘green-eyed monster’ (a modern form of penis envy, if you will). Nevertheless, mothers’ rights activist groups eventually got their way, and mothers across the land were thence granted the privilege of choosing for themselves whether or not to stay umbilically connected to their offspring.” (Unquote.)
      Grandees and Gentledames, permit me once again to extort your forbearance at this untimely interruption, for I daresay, in the best of conscience, that I would be sorely remiss if I neglected to make mention here of the latest research by distinguished scholars from the Ex-Düsseldorf School outpointing that during the Late VCR Period, many activist groups, such as the United Mothers’ Front, were militantly organized to tilt at the windmills of twenty-first century society and its ubiquitous collar-and-wristband morality. As ill luck would have it, none of these groups found agendas on which they could come to any form of consensus, so they wound up locking horns with, and eventually making mincemeat, out of each other.
      Thank you for your patience. I shall now resume where I left off.
      (Quote.) “Shortly after I received tenure, my bitter half gave birth to a robust fifty-pounder. It goes without saying that she had to undergo a Caesarean section of sorts. In those days, however, perissotomists performing such operations were obliged to cut thru considerably more than just the walls of a childing woman’s abdominal organs and uterus. Not only were they under perennial constraint to incise humongous blads of swollen tissue from tit to toe, but more oft than no they’d have to dismember mothers-to-be from the cervical vertebrae downwards, then reassemble their parts once the deliveries were made. Helga was never quite the same after what they did to her, so we’ve had, sithence, to betake ourselves to stone bone, airtight, up-to-the-handle goofproof contraceptive sleight-of-horn gimmicks.

                                                                                                * * *

      I was alarmed when I recently discovered, quite by accident, that the lion’s share of my wife’s innards had been replaced, during her travail, by newfangled hop-and-go-fetch-its pre-engineered to simulate the functions of her indigenous parts. Apparently, large portions of her cerebral cortex, frontal lobe, corpus callosum and cerebrum had been surgically removed and then replaced with computerized, electromagnetic ringumajigs (each of which contained over sixteen-and-a-half vigintillion zettabytes of RAM) that were pre-programmed to parrot, or otherwise approximate, the totality of intricate nuances and subtle dynamics that embodied her original character and personality. Also, the big-nose knifers and bonemen used this occasion to cut her brain fibers transorbitally (an execution known in the vernacular as a prefrontal lobotomy) to render her phlegmatic to her milieu. After rearranging her attic, they installed miniature, high-resolution fiberoptic cameras and bugging devices into her receptors. (And to think that all these years I’d been silently commending her on her long-suffering patience, her placid tholemodeness, her intestinal fortitude! Helga, my Chief of Staff, my Ball and Chain—a pawn and droid of the Ad Board!)

                                                                                                * * *

      Our son Kong grew up in quick fits and spurts. By the time he was six, he’d become too sizely for our home, so Helga and I had to work double hard to save the downpayment and closing costs for a roomier dwelling where he could reside. As one can readily surmit, manifold affiliates of the baby loom generation took up their abodes in renovised cathedrals, skyscrapers, coliseums and suchlike. More and more structures of this sort mushroomed not only in megalopolises like New York but in subtopian residential procincts as well. Eventually, our precious little shelter was thrown into the shade by such fabrics, as a result whereof, by inchmeal the newsboys and eggmen overlooked it on their delivery beats. Also, many of our most valued friends and acquaintances dropped by less and less on account of the incredible frustration they tholed trying to pinpoint the whereabouts of our crib. For some reason or other, the newest global positioning systems failed to register our seat.

                                                                                                * * *

      Shortly after Kong was married, he hired a contractor to convert the tumbledown doghouse in his yard into an apartment complex where Helga and I (and others from our age set) could reside. Such arrangements were not uncommon between children and their parents and oft times proved beneficial for both. It followed, some years thereafter, that Kong’s daughter Brunhilde (my only grandchild) and son-in-law Tarzanisaurus eventually convinced Kong and his wife to move into one of the pigeonholes in their columbarium, postjacent to the plugged up earth closet looming aslant beside the unsown cornfields abaft the quad. After Helga and I donated some nine tenths of our household effects and movables to the Salivation Army (numbered amongst which were our most treasured lares and penates), Brunhilde found us a commodious gap in the nethermost drawer of her filing cabinet, which afforded us considerable privacy. She was kind enough to carry me in her briefcase every morning to the edifice on campus where I lectured. A special arrangement was made for senior pedagogues to deliver speeches to their classes from podiums made of cassette boxes and broken rulers duct-taped to the omphali of swacking conference tables (fitments that could fairly be described as dinosauric in dimension). Standing atop such a table was not unlike being on a freeway overpass without railings. The students would seat themselves around us, cocking their ears attentfully to catch the gist of whatever we spouted. At first, the Ad Board refused to provide us with mikes and speaker systems, thereby leaving us devoid of any practicable alternatives for establishing operary methods of communication with our students. We therefore found ourselves in the ungracefully awkward position of having to gesticulate ecstatically (muchwhat violently) with our arms and legs whilst fiendishly barking, and squeaking ourselves croaky, in maniacally desperate attempts to make ourselves distinctly understood. Most of the students were deferential towards us, seemly hanging for dear life on every word we sputtered whilst beaverishly taking notes. Others were swell-headed, insolent, unteachable little brats (or ‘big brats’ might be the more correct term) who thought they knew everything better. They’d flash their wide-ribbed physiques in the course of pettifogging endlessly over the most picayune pedanticisms. Still others were lazy good-for-naughts who neither turned in their assignments nor showed up for class. Although I gave the latter group only barely passing marks, it didn’t seem to faze them much. In fact, I began to harbor grave misgivings that my reputedly coveted position any longer held much swinge or prestige in the department. It appeared that an execution of administrative officials from the Deputy Provost’s Office, as well as a constituency of vote-casting members from its many and various vigilance committees, only kept me there for the sake of political expedience (I had, after all, two Nobels and three or four Pulitzers under my belt). And I suspect they looked upon me as a fading old fud they’d soon get rid of. The only thing withholding them from awarding me my walking papers was some fly-by-night legislation passed to protect the rights of little men like myself.
      The tension and frustration greatened even more as I grew older. By the time I proached retirement, I had to lecture on a glass slide under the objectives of a microscope. Every other morning, an assistant (authorized by the Ad Board) would affuse a gross vessel of oil over my top flat, and then stain my flesh with a motley of synthetic dyes antecedent to mounting me on the glass with a pair of tweezers. The assistant would then place the slide on a platform—a sort of proscenium, if you will—that was posited point-blank aneath the objective lenses and steep above a large movable mirror that functioned as a spotlight of sorts insomuch as it refracted, or lased, a blinding glare dead upon me.
      In despite of nominal splurges on the part of the Ad Board to motivate students to channelize their aggressive impulses into fixating less than half-heartedly upon the sums and substances of lectures delivered by size-challenged academics like myself, I sensed, all the same, that the tention spans of my own students—even the best and brightest among them—had shortened considerably, but it was difficult from where I was deployed to gage whether or not they were actually listening to me. All I could espy thru the optical tubes and cylinders impending above me were some half-dozen grotesquely distorted vestigial remnants of nictitating membranes. When the students had questions about the material I presented, they would bat their lids thru the eyepieces in Morse code. An ad hoc committee from the Deputy Provost’s Office beteemed me a swiveling searchlight, replete with flappers &c., with which I was encharged to respond to my students’ queries in the selfsame cipher. Such modes of interaction between teachers and their protégés, I could not help but remark, proved to be far less expedient than those whereunto I’d become acclimated as an undergrad.

                                                                                                * * *

      Shortly after I retired from my spot at the U, my granddaughter Brunhilde had her firstborn—a bouncingly robustic suckling about the size of the World Trade Center. He was baptized ‘Trogzilla.’ When Trogzilla finally married and settled down, Brunhilde and Tarzanisaurus were consigned to a chicken coop in the outgarth, and Kong and his wife to the cash drawer of a tallboy in the guest closet. Because Helga and I were relatively miniscule in frame (to modern eyes and sensibilities all but indistinctible from a bifold fleck of grunge), it was difficult to find a locale where we wouldn’t be blown into oblivion by the cyclone-force thodes, gusts and blasts. Notwithstanding, thru the good offices of our son (who in turn relied on his connection to his daughter), we were able to secure comfortable new quarters at the bottom of a classic, inkwell-style pepper shaker that was capped and footed in brushed silver-gray metal and had walls of clear glass tastefully embellished from the ground up with an ornamental motif of plum-colored and salmon-pink flamingos. Contained in the nethermost compartment of this utensil was a provisionally de-activated, case-hardened, steel peppergrinding mechanism that initially gave us pause but has yet proved to be comparatively harmless. Our spanking new accommodations were within spitting reach of a way-bigger-than-barn-sized microwave oven. Fortunate for us, the caster in which we were housed was scarcely ever used (let alone replenished) on account of Trogzilla and his family taking their meals out most the time. On the few ceremonial occasions they chose to stay home for dinner, Helga and I were given ample warning to clear out. Happily, neither of us suffered from allergic disorders of any kind, so the pervasive nose-tickling tang that effused from the cayenne and peppercorns (what with our incessant sneezing fits) prevented our sinuses from overclogging.

                                                                                                * * *

      My classes, though well attended, were taken over at times by a young upstart named Hoggins, who was only five or six heads shorter than the more ‘pint-sized’ of my students. Evidently, he had been appointed by the regents on account of some backhanded nepotistic maneuverings by affluential members of his tribe, not to mention the scratching of an itchy palm here and there. As one might justly expect, he was known to bask in spicy and expensive colognes, the musky stinks of which invoked many a wide-eyed freshette into swooning with ecstasy at the stylishly dashing figure he supposedly cut. His single-breasted jackets always smelled exquisitely unsoiled and were studiously bedubbed with brain-tanned, full-grain ostrich, yakskin, barnacle, sturgeon and/or dogskin leather elbow patches on either of his sleeves, which lent to his facade a hammed up ‘professorial’ tenue. He also nurtured a special affinity for splashy silk Nehru shirts necklaced with glistering medallions (and other spangly pendicles and bijouteries), which lent to his fucus an assiduously cultivated ‘proto-neo-nouveau-beatnik’ deport that my students thought ‘cool’ yet which I found insufferably nauseating.
      At times I felt uncertain whether the heed conferred upon my own talks (by those in attendance) was out of a genuine interest in the subject matter, or out of a more clinical interest in my insectile physique. Every now and then I had to dodge a dissecting rod, and in some instances had to huddle for hours aneath the lectern to avoid being skewered. I could not help but take note of the fact that not once in the course of my having had to abrook such ordeals—even when I feared for my very life—did Hoggins so much as break a sweat (much less lift a finger) in my behalf. I had, therefore, good reason to suspect he was drooling covetously after my endowed chair (or ‘stool’ might be the more felicitous term) and, belike, champing at the bit for me to bite the dust (the sooner the better, no doubt, from his coign of vantage). To this living day, I’ve been hopelessly incapable of determining whether or not such exploits as those forementioned were to be taken in jest—as one takes, for example, fraternity pranks—or if there was in fact a malicious intent behind them.” (Unquote.)
      “Fraternities,” Tomatoes and Gentlemen, according to a recent set of studies published by the late Professor Reinhold Dümpf of the Googleplex Academy, were student organizations on university campuses dedicated to staunchly upholding what thenadays were perceived as the augustly sacred capitalist paragons of Free Enterprise, Big Business, Universal Brotherhood (among equals, that is), Puritan Morality—and the wholesale enslavement of the underclass.
      Having suffisantly traversed the territory of that wary topic, let us now continue with the one at hand, to wit: the melancholy mindings of our precious little hero.
      (Quote.) “In any case, ghastly rumors were afloat that some of my senior colleagues had been stapled to death, lacinated with paper clips, throttled with rubber bands or pulpified into amorphous smudges inside textbooks. Ominous reports circulated about students who deliberately tortured, and even killed, their professors by burying them alive under mountainous globs of pre-masticated bubble gum, or by drawing and quartering them after tying their appendicles to the tarsi of elephantic insects—each of which would have had its own uniquely specific agenda of an imprevaricably insurrectionary vergency. (Moths of various breeds, such as the Atlas and the Death’s-Head, were especially popular on account of their spasmodic volitations.) Lamentably, the Ad Board has done next to nil to make restitution for, or in other ways to rectify, such niggling annoyances.

                                                                                                * * *

      Front-page news is interminably difficult to follow nowadays. Occasionally, Trogzilla will flick on the high-definition TV in his kitchenette, not far from our peppergrain in the shaker, but the screen is so large and lambent with flickering colors, it’s nighwhat impossible to dignosce any of the images upon it. At best I’ll catch an earlobe, a fingernail, a rosary bead or suchlike, yet making out the contours and profiles and patterns of such things is only effectible on clear days. Normally, the flashing colors on the screen are so bright, and the noise so deafening, we have to hole ourselves up downstairs in the ant-raid shelter whenever it’s on. Trogzilla, professing a childlike faith in our existence (though never actually having laid his eyes upon us), was kind enough, thru his mother’s impetrations, to place the front sheets of the newspaper flat upon the kitchen floor every morning so that Helga and I could peruse them. The process of browsing thru the paper, however, was not only time-consuming, but also quite fatiguing, since scanning the headlines required making rapid strides back and forth for a distance of not less than two-hundred city blocks—a span commensurable with at least three times the longitude of Central Park (that is to say, the Central Park I remember from my dancing days).” (Unquote.)
      Permit me to interject here, Fannies and Musclemen, that “Central Park,” emforth the luminously penible scholarship of Professor Pelvin B. Platypus of Snood College, was a fortified sanctuary for righteous and upstanding citizens of ancient New-York-on-the-Hud, where one could seek refuge from the cannibals that were known to manstick for game in the enveloping procincts.
      That said, let’s go on.
      (Quote.) “To further encumber matters, one had to possess exceptionally sharp retention skills to recall the uppermost section of a paragraph so as to ally its meaning with the bottommost portion. Sometimes I would forget the first clause of a compound sentence while reading the second one, or I would become so deeply involved with the parenthetical elements (overlapping and otherwise), that I’d forget the original predicates and subjects of the sentences they were explicating upon, amplifying, or digressing from. The things I dreaded most were antithetical and complementary elements, elliptical constructions, and nonrestrictive dependent clauses—and my heart would sink at the sight of dashes, semicolons, or (Heaven forbid!) … Double Brackets! If one lost the gist of the article one was reading, it became necessary to backtrack a mile or two to review it. This was more ungainly than one might expect, for, while one had to concentrate on distinguishing the contours of the letters, one also puffed and panted from racing like the wind the whole time. On the other hand, the daily exercise did us some good, and, ifsoever or whensoever we happened to have ‘extra gas,’ we’d take time to read a strip or two from the funnies. Quite natch, The Adventures of Tiny Tim Thummy and his Four Little Fingerlings was one of our all-time faves.

                                                                                                * * *

      I was recently informed by my son that Trogzilla’s wife Amazona gave birth to a pair of twin girl-mountains (each roughly the size of Kilimanjaro), and that they in turn bore their own ‘blocks off the old chip,’ so to speak. The cycle of childbirths seems to have proliferated faster and faster ad infinitum. Presently, it would appear that new generations are growing up at every instant.
      At this point in time I’ve lost track of my descendents, but I’ve been told by reliable sources that they’re now towering into remote regions of the cosmos, and that the gravitational pull of our planet no longer wields any influence upon them. On the rare occasions I get outdoors (sometimes Tarzanisaurus will tote me in his vest pocket), I can make out dark shadows and shapes in the night sky blocking the constellations from my view. These debonairly free-floating figures, I’m told, are affiliates of the younger generations zigzagging about their quotidian routines. Occasionally, their multigalacticals (to wit: Burger God, Spiralbucks, Taco Nova, Spacemart, Universal Motors, etc.) will make use of the empty aether in our portion of the galaxy to advertise their wares, at which point the heavens illume with ginormous holograms of auto parts, quarter-ton burgers (with or without fries), stereo components, home computers & accessories, Caramel Broccoli shakes, Mocha Tuna Frappuccinos® and what have you.” (Unquote.)
      “Multigalacticals,” according to a set of studies conducted by a team of specialists overseen by Professor Thermit Thumble of Beavis State University, were immense corporate monopolies that dominated all spheres of economic life in the cosmos. If a given wage slave was “owned” by a multigalactical, and if said wage slave toed the bottom line to a T, he or she stood better than a snowflake’s chance of averting maximal demotion by associates within his or her branch of the company. The sine qua non for maintaining one’s function would be to forcefully demonstrate one’s infallible faith in, and unconditional love for, the company—a dedication of heart, mind, body, soul … and boodle. If, howso, the slightest tang of insubordination became conspicable in a wageling, in despite of his or her seniority (which could be something as seemly minute as a timorous hesitation while singing the corporate theme song, or a failure to goose-step in perfect time to the corporate parade march, or waggling one’s hips out of sync when called upon to bump the corporate belly dance), the much dreaded “Three B’s” would automatically grind into motion: Banishing, Blacklisting and Beheading. This, of course, was a figure of speech, for the process itself was designed to last for many sessions, so that flagged subversives would have time aplenty to curse their follies and rue not just the days they’d lapsed into their “atroce” and “grimful” transgressions but also the very tides on which they themselves had been issued forth. Cost what it may, Death, with a capital D, was the ultime verdict, since examples had to be set for the others to witness (lest they, too, enclasp such contumacious attitudes or mutinous inclinations). The upper extremities of the wage slaves, once chopped off, usually found their way into the orbits of eruptive variables, eclipsing binaries, or red supergiants, and, in some cases, were engorged by starving black holes.
      I shall proceed forthwith, Gal-boys and Girliemen, to wind down this discourse with the outmost chapter of our grave little martyr’s retrospections.
      (Quote.) “In any case, the commercial wares that were skywritten across the celestial regions were, presumably, manufactured in some unknown nebulae quintillions of light-years away. We’ve never been able to perfix if all this corporate hype was specifically targeted towards our demographic subgroup, or if the adverts in the sky were merely projected by accident out of some inaccessibly remote light source. Just the same, I called one of the toll-free numbers flaring in the heavens after sunset to inquire about possible cures for my illness, and the person on the other line said he recognized my name from somewhere, so I mentioned some of the gulags (aside from Harvard) where I used to teach, and he told me that the Klunkenfloyd Academy of Commutual Rectification was his great-great-great-great-great-great-uncle’s alma mater before he’d gone on to do his doctoral time at Ninjaturtle U.
      The aforenamed Academy had, in recent years, become illustriously notorious as a breeding ground for radical doctrines such as Power-Boot Economics and Procrasturbationism. The staunchest advocates of such perspectives rabidly espoused structural and ideological reforms in various sectors of the inframarginal world, and the most impassioned proponents thereamong took up the cudgels for casualties of the growth plague, and even went so far as to raise funding to subventionize the construction of re-education accommodations for the offscourings of society.
      Betweenwhiles, a maze of bureaucrats inside the badministration, who were sympathetic to the Procrasturbationist cause (and thereat accordant with its agenda), pre-registered the poor, the sick and the elderly (in holes and corners, unbeknownst to them) to be housed in blocks of what were formerly used as hutches for hair shirts, jock straps, circular protectors and suchlike in the locker rooms of abandoned fitness centers.

                                                                                                * * *

      Quite recently, in what appeared (at least on the surface) to be a sweeping magnanimous gesture on the part of our incumbent CEO, all forces from the occupied zones were withdrawn, all COINTELPRO agencies were dismantled, and all weapons of mass destruction were laid to rest. Of course, anyone with half the seeds in their pumpkin knew this was a sham—a Machiavellian ruse to garner financial support from nonbusiness circles. Chief Executive Officer Tanglefoot Schrecksniff was recognized by his coggers, pickthanks and béni-oui-ouis—as well as by his manifestly venomous calumniators—as being a modern-day Genghis Khan (of sorts), and was, ex post facto of his tenure as Holy Supreme Commander of the Biosphere, awarded the factitious ‘Global Police’ and ‘Pell-mell Caprice’ prizes (which, insofar as what prezactly such come-by-chance tokens of favor were presumed to signify, was anybody’s guess). Straightforth upon his being tarred and feathered, untriped and discerped by squealing mobs of anarchs, disgrunts and rebels, he was canonized by the Church of Exxon.
      In any case, it turned out that the fellow-on-the-phone’s great-great-great-great-great-great-uncle was a student of mine back in the thirties, in the days when I lectured under the microscope, and that I remembered him as one of those muscle-loving spuds who got his jollies making me cower under the lectern whilst threatening to crush me with his Master Card. Well, as I learned from my conversation with this fellow-on-the-phone, such pranks were performed at the instigation of Thargoyle the Preceptor—a sizable toad in our department who had a well-earned rep for being an astutely sequacious career-monger, and was known by various schlimazels (whose ends he’d managed to play against the middle) to be a sliving, covinous, finagling conniver. Ostensively, Thargoyle took an active part in emuling the sinistrous machinations, tactical juggleries, and diabolic shifts of his consociates from Hogginses’ cabal and, somehow or other, always managed to better his station to the irremediable detriment of his senior associates. Thargoyle was shrewd enough to realize that the Ad Board didn’t give a fiddler’s fark about the welfare or safety of the brainery’s senior savants, and was wide awake to the fact that old dodos like myself were no longer possessed of the say-so or veto power we once commanded. This was not only due to our Lilliputian proportions but also to the increasingly laborious task of keeping in step with the latest research in our realms of expertise (never mind raising the wherewithal to do so). Which, in the contingency that the dimensions of our physiques had been of suffisantly competent cubic mileage, would, in and of themselves, have made a wickedly tough lineup to buck. Howbeit, such tall undertakings were made all the more onerous by the logistical problem of finding books diminutive enough to squirrel away in our cribs. It got to the point where we had to clear out entire rooms to store single titles. Housefrows from pole to pole would purchase enormous altars on which to set individual volumes. Such altars, along with their predelle, were more humongous in size than your run-of-the-mill umpteen-manual, thousand-plus-stop, department store pipe organs. As one can easily imagine, scholars, pedants, quodlibetarians and the like would have to spend most of their spare time browsing in bookstores before deciding which titles were pivotal enough to be kept as permanent fixtures in their homes.

                                                                                                * * *

      One fine day, as I was thumbing thru a textbook on peno-entomology (which approximated in size a century of phone booths, give or take), something decidedly singular went down before me. Well, I’ll be diddle-damned if the incident I’m about to relate was just a figment of my fancy, for right then and there, before my jaded eyes, plump out of the cathedral-door-like pages of the tome I was dipping into, popped a pair of thumping skeletons, both of which crashed thunderously upon the asphalt planking, not more than an inch from my being, with the physical impact of a pair of boxcars fit to bust with Bösendorfers of the Imperial Concert Grand variety. I can’t even begin to describe the rickety-rackety biff-boom-bang these relics made on their point of collision. Thanking my lucky stars I wasn’t scrushed into a pancake, I took the initiative, notwithstanding, to assess the damage around me once the dust devils and whirling dervishes of debris had settled into place. Pon wiping the schmutz off my coke bottle lenses with a silk surnape, I thereright recognized both skelets as having belonged to Hoggins the Upstart and Thargoyle the Preceptor. I knew it was they on account of the ostentatiously tweedy Brooks Brothers suits that hung in tatters from their bones (along with their signature custom-made skunkskin, aardvark and porcupine leather funnybone patches). It should not go unsaid here that, while I felt an intoxicating thrill at the sight of their fracted remains (which prompted an appreciative chuckle from my lips, accompanied by the consoling thought that there might be some give and take in the world after all), I also felt an uncomfortable chill when the realization dawned on me that finding the broken skelets of these worthless academics, under such disresting circumstances, only served to validate the hideous rumors I’d heard, over the years, about faculty members from our school being crushed inside textbooks by savagely vengeful students.

                                                                                                * * *

      Because the younger generations capitalized on our insatiable thirst for reading material, they made a point of installing elevator shafts in the bookshops to lift us from one level to the next, which enabled us to peruse the blurbs that were splashed across the spines for our benefit. Each shelf was equipped with a special crane one could operate to open the books and turn their pages. Such benevolencies, though well-meant, were good and fine yet fell grievously short of addressing the fundamental posers, gruelers and sticklers we were tempting to tackle. Sometimes it would take fortnights—even entire semesters—before I could come to a prudent verdict in respect of which title to purchase and bring into my home. Commercial publishing houses like Elvis Press, Butthead Books, and Pogo & Bozo, Ltd. (among others) pandered to the brute and tabloid Gothisms of the micromorph booboisie by publishing ‘finger-sized’ opuscules, which, though ponderously clumsy by second-millenium standards in terms of one’s having to schlepp them, were nevertheless strategically manageable in their dimensions insomuch as it was possible to transport them on mattress carts, maintenance platforms, vending machine hand trucks, and so on. Be that as it may, such houses, although in easy enough circumstances to be magnanimous to their midgeteen patronage, issued only backlists of space operas, spyboilers, blood freezers, spine tinglers, yellowbacks, penny dreads, whodunits, and then some—not exactly fodder for the quizzical minds of our noted faculty’s ‘vest-pocket’ contingent.

                                                                                                * * *

      By sheer force of habit I kept my currency (and other liquid assets such as bank notes) in epic denominations, since the transport of a single bill required renting a U-Haul for the day (not to speak of the fact that the ‘almighty dollar,’ as it was once styled, ain’t exactly what it used to be—or, at least, what it was once cranked up to be). The panhandlers and stickup men would, as a rule, overlook our convoys, as it was apparently against their ethical codes (however twisted they may have been) to take advantage of our wart-like frames. Besides which, as a polite precaution, we armed ourselves with case shots containing pellets of crushed glass fragments and hydrogen cyanide gas, which could be fired out of ballistic missile launchers from embrasures in our vans. (The book clerks, incidentally, were graciously obliging towards us, since they knew we’d let them pocket any spare change we couldn’t fit into our trucks.)

                                                                                                * * *

      Anyhow, having neither the go-juice nor bluster to ramble on much further, suffice it to say that the drifts and developments of the past few decades have transmogrified at such an alarming rate, I’ve had to demit myself to a catatonic stupor of anonymity in my métier. The enduring contributions I once made to my discipline are all but clean forgotten; moreover, I’ve come to be as good as unseen—if not unborn—to my baby colleagues. Officially, I still retain the imposing (all be confessedly trumped-up) title ‘Professor Emeritus,’ yet, what with the rapid turnover in personnel, whensoever I shamble or cramble thru the vaulted corridors of my department, not a single entity, however seeming well-disposed, will go so far as to doff a cap to agnize my existence any longer. Of course, ’twould be insensible, if not plumb silly, of me to take my lowly little worm’s-eye view of such Olympian aloofness to heart, as the Johnny-come-latelys on the faculty are evidently blissfully unconscious of my perilous proximity to them. Even so, I don’t think it absonant on my part to expect that they’d search me out in the woodwork once, haps twice, in a blue moon, if for no other wherefore than to engage in some idle pleasantries or … small talk. After all, I’ve been properly civil towards them, tipping my stovepipe, dropping curtsies, nodding, genuflecting, even smirkling cordially in their direction as they waddle past me—though, granted, I do have to take cover now and then to dodge the meteoritic fallout from their flicking belvederes; or sidestep the blouts of cheese, Spam and cookie crumb boulders hailing from their lunch boxes; or parry the projectiles of peanut shells, candy wraps, pizza crud, spent syringes, used condoms (and what have you) slackly misthrown into their shitcans, etc., from whence it ought not be inferred that I’m eluding their fellowship—au contraire! By no means whatso should my watchful reserve, in point of my physical surety, be suchwise construed! Besides which, it wouldn’t exactly impair their prestige to get to know me (or, at very least, my writings), considering my testimoniums were once known to engender favorable outcomes for the budding careers of many a pingling young spoon. Howsoever that may be, if my baby colleagues are too limpsy to make the effort, not even a sledgehammer from Hell can loosen their domes from the marble blocks in which they’re encased! (Academics: can’t live with ‘em, can’t live with ‘em …)

                                                                                                * * *

      And so, resigning myself to this ever-deepening obscurity, edging myself ever closer to the umstroke of invisibility (even whiles to my significant other), I’m ready to lay down the old knife and fork as a means of exfiltration from this topsy-turvydom. The morbid growths inside my lungs cause me acute, almost unendurable, discomfort—especially at night. And it’s become accreasingly cumbrous to catch my breath. Brunhilde, at my son’s suggestion, arranged to have me moved from the pepper caster to a breezier location on the windowsill in her boudoir, where the sun shines in from the garden. It helps swage the pangs to a certain degree, and is altogether preferable to the poor ventilation we have to admit from the perforated top of our shaker. Of late, I’ve enjoyed reclining in my wing chair, beside Helga, watching the neon announcements flashing in the heavens after sunfall.

                                                                                                * * *

      Well, seeing as I’ve dried out all the sludge at the bottom of my inkwell, in the course of jotting down these ghostlike recollections, it’s high time I ask the big woman to bury them somewhere—perhaps in one of the flowerpots on our front stoop. My confidence wanes by the minute, howso, that my cautionary words will ever be uncovered. Nevertheless, in the off chance that they’re dug up some day, it’s my ardent hope that what I’ve recorded here will serve as an indicator to whomsoever reads it of the amnesic patterns that recur continuously from one generation to the next. I’ve seen wars fought under shifting ideological guises, and while there are bona fide endeavors on the part of the powers that be to assiduously, if not systematically, study and learn by osmosis the rude lessons of History, the constructions of past events are uniformly perversified, and the same old power struggles persist. Such currents extend into every facet of our culture, including the arts—the endless shifting of blind spots.
      I thus steem it of paramount import that future generations won’t fail to give heed to the counsel of their elders (in despite of our dwindling dimensions), especially when we come to be feckless and puny—even calcified and fossilized, as I now am. I say this because the ‘unold’—to wit, whosoever chances to read this parchment—might upgrave a trenchant insight or two from our deep-buried wells of hitherunto wasted afterwisdom. And, in the event that they are adequately forewarned, they can better prepare themselves for the nameless hardships they’ll have to outface in their own declining years.

                                                                                                * * *

      My breath grows short and sounds gurgly. As it goes, I haven’t eaten in several days, which is far from being a healthful sign. I can feel a stagnant spond of spittle and snot accruing inside my gullet. I can also sense a miasmic rush of smore assailing to evict its way therethrough. On account of these eleventh-hour unfoldings, I expect it’s now time for me to bid my readers a wistful adieu.” (Unquote.)
      This narrative concludes with Professor Klein’s sprawling signature followed by the date of his passage: April 14th, 2057.
      Ladies and Gentlemen, I want to express to you my profound appreciation at your generous forbearance. And self-restraint.
      Thank you ever so kindly.
      Good night and Dog bless!
      [Exit .]

Gary Noland grew up on a plot of land three blocks south of UC Berkeley known as People’s Park, which has distinguished itself as a site of civic unrest since the 1960s. As an adolescent, Gary lived for a time in Salzburg and Garmisch-Partenkirchen, where he absorbed many musical influences. He earned a BA in music from UC Berkeley in 1979, continued studies at the Boston Conservatory, and transferred to Harvard where he added to his credits an MA and PhD in 1989. His teachers in composition and theory have included John C. Adams, Alan Curtis, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies (Master of the Queen’s Music, 2004-present), William Denny, Robert Dickow, Janice Giteck, Andrew Imbrie (Pulitzer Prize Finalist, 1995), Earl Kim, Leon Kirchner (Pulitzer Prize, 1967), David Lewin, Donald Martino (Pulitzer Prize, 1974), Hugo Norden, Marta Ptaszynska, Chris Rozé, Goodwin Sammel, John Swackhamer, Ivan Tcherepnin (son of celebrated Soviet composer Alexander Tcherepnin), and Walter Winslow. He has attended seminars by composers David Del Tredici (Pulitzer Prize, 1980), Beverly Grigsby, Michael Finnissy (leading British composer) and Bernard Rands (Pulitzer Prize, 1984), and has had private consultations with George Rochberg (the “father of neo-romanticism”) and Joaquin Nin-Culmell (brother of Anais Nin).

Gary’s catalogue consists of over 400 works, which include piano, vocal, chamber, experimental and electronic pieces, full-length plays in verse, “chamber novels,” and graphically notated scores. His “39 Variations on an Original Theme in F Major” for solo piano (Op. 98) is, at almost two hours duration, the longest set of solo piano variations in the history of the genre. He has been called “the Richard Strauss of the 21st century” and “the most virtuosic composer of fugue alive today.” His compositions have been performed and broadcast in many locations throughout the United States, as well as in Europe, Asia, and Australia. He founded the Seventh Species concert series in San Francisco in 1990 and has, since, produced over fifty concerts of contemporary concert hall music on the West Coast. Gary is also a founding member of Cascadia Composers. Gary has taught music at Harvard and the University of Oregon and currently teaches piano, theory, and composition as an independent instructor in Portland, Oregon. A number of his works (fiction, music, and graphic scores) have been published (and/or are slated for publication) in various litmags, including Quarter After Eight, The Berkeley Fiction Review, The Portland Review, Denali, The Monarch Review, The NewerYork Press, and Heavy Feather Review. His graphic scores are included in Theresa Sauer’s book “Notations 21,” which is the sequel to John Cage’s celebrated compilation of graphic scores “Notations” (first published in 1969). His scores are available from J.W. Pepper, RGM, and Freeland Publications. Six CDs of his compositions are available on North Pacific Music at: To read more about Gary Noland, go to:

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