Tag Archives: time travel

The Origins of Pumpkin Beer

It was nearing sundown on that late autumn evening, and soon the frost would settle in for the long winter months. Mordecai Willington III was tending to the last of his crops, surveying the remaining gourds that littered his field in a tangled mess of pulp and vine, like a spider’s web in orange, brown, and yellow, speckled with flecks of green. It was the end of the harvest season, and though his yield had been high this year, he wasn’t selling as strongly as he had hoped. Soon the gourds would go to waste, buried beneath the snow along the cold Atlantic coast. Without the money he had hoped to make, his family would be forced to ration their goods until the spring.

Mordecai was gathering the final fresh gourds when a blinding white flashed across the field. It was radiant and burned without pain, as if God Himself had come down from above to bless the land. Mordecai was then surprised when a young girl emerged from the glorious haze, wearing boots to the middle of her shins that were covered in the fur of what appeared to be some relative of a sheep. Her long hair seemed an unnatural auburn shade and her clothing was immodest: a form-fitting pair of slacks made of some material he had never seen, and a button-down shirt in tartan tones that clung tightly to her well-supported bosom. She did not appear to be a harlot, though her face was indeed painted, giving her an angelic glow.

“I’m Alyssa,” she said, and when she smiled, her teeth were neither yellow nor jagged, but rather like a child’s in a full grown mouth.

“The Lord knows me as Mordecai Willington III,” he said, and bowed his nod. “Are you a messenger from God? Have you come to tell me how I shall feed my family through this cold, dark winter?”

“I do, but not from God. I come Northeastern University, four-hundred-and-something years in the future. Well, technically I grew up in Jersey but now I’m studying marketing. This is my internship semester.”

Mordecai turned his head and looked curiously at the strange woman. “Your words, they sound like English. I know them, yet I do not understand them. There is something queer about them.”

The girl — Alyssa — rolled her eyes and let out an exasperated. “Ugh, it was one time after volleyball practice. I’m not like a dyke or — you know, forget it, that’s not the point. I’m here to tell you that you need to take those leftover pumpkins, and turn those into beer, so we can get fucked up in the future. Oh, and from now on, you should probably ferment at the start of the harvest, so we can drink them starting in like, August. Got it?”

Mordecai laughed and said, “Others have done the same with their leftover gourds. It tastes retched compared to true ales! But it does indeed get you through the winter. But if we were to use our pumpkin harvest in the summer months, before the crops are ready, it would taste so green, and soiled. And then we would not have the crops to use in the fall!”

“That’s why you just dump a bunch of nutmeg and cinnamon and crap in, and you’ll be fine. And then you just sell that and you’ll make like a million dollars and you won’t even to worry about selling more crops in the future. I’m telling you, I’m marketing major, and I’m doing all kinds of alcohol brand ambassador stuff at  my internship now. I totally know what I’m talking about.”

Mordecai took a step towards her and peered at her with squinted eyes. “Why would I waste such valuable spices? We do make ales from pumpkin at the end of the harvest, but only out of necessity, never for flavor, and certainly not with pride. Why should I listen to you? How do I know that you are not sent here from the Devil?”

“Ugh, why does everyone hate Jersey so much?” the girl replied. She crossed her arms beneath her breasts and said, “Just trust me, okay? Think of me as like, the Ghost of Frat Parties Future. Or something. I don’t know. I never read that book, just the SparkNotes.”

#

The next summer, Mordecai took his entire pumpkin harvest and did precisely as he was told. But no one would barter or pay for his beer, and without any other crops to sell, his family went cold and hungry, and over the course of the winter, his entire family succumbed to the elements. But their sacrifice made for some like, totally sweet parties in the first few weeks of the semester.

Quantum Physiology, or The Origins of Nonlinear Molecular Teleportation

I was 29 years old when I invented the first time machine (technically a Nonlinear Molecular Teleportation Matrix, if we’re being scientific). Only one other person knows this, and that’s Christian Jherek. So I suppose it’s entirely possible that someone else had invented a similar device before I did, or even since then, and kept it secret, just as I have. Lied and blemished her own image, made a fool out of herself, told her colleagues she was wrong, delusional, that she had made some critical error in the math, when the truth was that she had willingly changed the numbers by herself, ensuring that the calculations would be incorrect, and thus debunking her own theory, which was also slated to form the foundation of her graduate thesis. Made herself into a fool, publicly and professionally, in some sad attempt to save the life of someone she’d just met. And then by doing so, doomed that very same person to his fate.

Or, maybe that’s just me.

***

Most of my students don’t realize that “Quantum Physiology” is actually a pun. They either assume it’s a typo, or that’s it’s just some uber-academic-sounding class with no prerequisites that fulfills a science requirement and isn’t full of obnoxiously overeager freshmen. The former group is wrong, anyway. In this particular instance, “quantum” is an adjective, meaning “sudden” or “significant,” which then modifies “physiology,” being the study of organic processes or functions of an organism or organisms. But of course, at the same time “quantum” typically refers to physics, being the fundamental unit of quantized physical magnitude in terms of angular momentum, and also the smallest quantity of radiant energy. And so the course is actually focused on the study of significant and / or sudden organic processes, as viewed specifically through the lens of quantum mechanics. For example, there’s a part of the curriculum dedicated to cancer. Not dedicated like, “in honor of” — although I guess that, too — but like an academic concentration on cancer, and the mechanical physics and unbalanced chemical equations that can cause a tumor to form. It’s not about the physical tumor, so much as it’s about the quantum-level behaviors that lead to a certain atomic malfunction which in turn causes to replicate some small but crucial piece of cellular information which then continues to replicate itself ad infinitum until it causes permanent and often ultimately critical damage to the physical body of which it is a larger part.

Basically, it’s the study of the organism as a machine, how math and physics relate to and affect the typical functions of a living thing. So, it’s a pun. Get it?

Haiku For A New Year

To 2013:
I thought this was the future,
so where’s my jet pack?

When We First Met (excerpt)

The second time he met her is the first time Mark noticed that her eyes were the same color, an almost silvery grey with specks of emerald green, and he immediately began to wonder if it was possible to fall in love in the wrong order. Not that there’s ever a wrong way to do anything when you’re in love, he reminded himself, as he looked back at the class roster and continued with attendance.

“Allison…Jherek?…” he called out to the classroom, his voice trailing away as he tried to pretend that he hadn’t already seen  noticed her, that he hadn’t already known that she would be here.

“Alli’s fine,” he heard a familiar voice say. He turned his head to find her sitting in the back of the lecture hall, looking not much younger than the day that they first met. Or, the day that he might her, to be precise. She had her hand raised, with a look of sheer disinterest scrawled across her face. He looked into her grey eyes for the very first time, hoping to find some small moment of recognition within her, but of course, there was nothing; she hadn’t met him yet. He’d already lived a life time with her — he still did, for that matter, though he knew it wouldn’t be for that much longer — and yet she’d never seen him before.

“Right,” he said, finally breaking from his stare. But the awkward tension in the room had already elevated past the point of typical first day jitters. ” He looked back to the roster sheet. “Alli it is. Glad you could join us, Alli. Welcome to Intro to Quantum Physiology. Is, um, is Adam…King here? Adam King?”

* * *

The first time that she met him he was younger than he was, a thought which at first struck Alli as obvious though she knew that wasn’t exactly what she meant by it.

“…Mark?” she asked tentatively as she watched him from the doorway. He was tying off a trash bag, bulging over with bottles and cans. A sickness filled her stomach and her head began to spin.

“Sorry, party’s over,” he said casually without turning around to see who he was talking to. He groaned softly as he hoisted the heavy  bag over his shoulder. She watched him carry it across the room, trying hard not to let the strain show on his face, and finally deposited it with a heave next to a similar pile of tied-off trash bags. There was a loud crashing sound as the bottles hit the floor, almost certainly smashing apart as they collided with one another against the linoleum. Mark looked up at her and smiled, finally acknowledging her presence in the room, as he absently started to dismantle a folding table. He returned his attention to the table as he forced a rusted pair of legs to fold back underneath it. With a swift kick, he was finally able to tuck the legs beneath the tabletop. Before he could finish with the other set of legs, he took a brief pause from his work and then he looked back in her direction.

“Do you have two different colored eyes?” he asked curiously. “Sorry, if that was rude, I just noticed –”

 

Haiku Beer Review #3: Winter Beer Summit 2012

6:10pm

Trinity Brewing Company Flo IPA
There’s not too much “I”
But a whole lot of “PA.”
A crisp, simple brew.

6:13pm 

Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale (8.4% ABV)
Pale, light body, with
all the taste of a bourbon…
but without the burn?

Crispin Cho-Tokkyu Cider (6.5% ABV)
Made with sake yeast
and rice syrup; so Bud Lite
mixed with apple juice.

Lagunitas Our Own Bavarian-Styled Dopple Weizen (9% ABV)
Rich, full-bodied wheat
beer. Slight clove/banana notes;
not cloying like most.

6:31

Paper City Brewing Blonde Hop Monster (8.5% ABV)
Light, crisp malt flavor
with a strong presence of dry,
bitter hops. Not bad!

Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project Our Finest Regards Barleywine (13.5% ABV)
Is it *their* finest
regards, or *mine*, now that I’m
drinking it? Syntax!

6:45pm

Cody Brewing Company Honey Ginger Ale
It’s like…ginger ale
(the soft drink), but a beer (but
not like Ginger Beer) .

Cody Brewing Company SOS Belgian IPA (5.7% ABV)
I didn’t really
pay attention to this one;
but I enjoyed it!

6:58pm

Ommegang Adoration Winter Ale (10% ABV)
Too tart, too funky,
too malty, way too spicy;
it’s all just too much.

Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout (10% ABV)
Chocolate taste up front
that swiftly fades to tart, malty
notes. I’ve had better.

Staropramen Lager
My German friend says
it doesn’t taste this sweet back
in the Vaterland.

Bay State Beer Company Time Traveller Maibock (7.5% ABV)
A big, golden malt
taste, but still temporally
linear; ah well.

7:13pm

Sam Adams Whitewater IPA (5.8% ABV)
Crisp, fresh citrus hops
up front, with a lingering
bitterness. Awesome!

7:25pm

Paper City Brewing Imperial Coffee Stout
Tastes artificial,
but without that sweetness; too
much roasty coffee.

7:34pm

Kennebec River Brewery IPA (5.9% ABV)
Much more bitter than
the body or aroma
let on; grapefruit-y.

B. Nektar Zombie Killer Cherry Ciser (5.5% ABV)
Dude! It’s called fucking
ZOMBIE KILLER! That’s awesome!
Light, sweet, and deadly!

8:01pm

Old Burnside Brewery Ten Penny Ale Reserve (9.6% ABV)
Big-bodied Scotch Ale;
caramel/toffee flavors
with a smooth finish.

Southern Tier Old Man Winter Ale (7.7% ABV)
Both full-bodied and
full-flavored. A perfect brew
to warm your winter.

Heavy Seas Loose Cannon Hop3 Ale (7.5% ABV)
Fantastic blend of
rich, aromatic hops and
tasty malt. Pirates!

Heavy Seas Peg Leg Imperial Stout (8% ABV)
A strong, savory
stout that goes down smooth. Also,
Pirates Oh Em Gee!

8:35pm

Jack’s Abbey Hoponius Union India Pale Lager (6.7% ABV)
Crisp, easy lager
balanced by grapefruit hops notes;
now I have to pee.

8:54pm

Woodchuck Crisp Hard Cider
Well. Okay then. That is
most certainly crisp. Pretty
much just apple juice!

Baxter Brewing Stowaway IPA (6.9% ABV)
Almost all bitter
hops; very assertive, but
still enjoyable.

I Kill Dead People

Here’s how it happens:

I invent the first time machine. Or, Future Thom invents the first machine, then travels back in time, and gives Present Thom the schematics, so that I — that is to say, Present Me — can in turn invent the first time machine for Future Thom to deliver back to me.

Once I — that is to say, Future Thom — has completed this first leg of the journey, he/I will then go back further in time to August 1, 2002, in the city of Los Angeles, whereupon I — that is to say, Future Thom — will track down one M. Night Shyamalan, on the eve of the theatrical release of his film Signs, and I — that is to say, Future Thom — will explain this to him (that is to say, Past M. Night Shyamalan):

“I am going to kill you,” Future Thom will say, as he pulls a six-shooter from a holster hanging from his hip white Urban Outfitters belt. “I have come from the future to save you, and I will do whatever I can to save you, so I will kill you.”

Past M. Night Shyamalan will put his hands up over his head and try to defuse the situation. He’ll ask Future Thom why, what are you doing, are you mad, this can’t be happening. But it will be happening. And Future Thom will explain.

“After Signs, your career pretty much becomes a big joke of pretentious self-importance and cheesy ‘twists’ in lieu of any actual plot or purpose. Even Signs was only mediocre — honestly, you should never have shown the aliens at all, it would made the whole thing a lot better.”

“But they looked so cool…!” he’ll protest. He’ll be wrong, and he’ll know it.

Future Thom will pull back the hammer on the six-shooter and raise it to his chest. “If I kill you now, you’ll be forever remembered as a visionary young filmmaker, stolen away from the world before his time in some mysterious, unsolved murder. Your name, your legacy will never be sullied by such crap as Lady in the Water or The Happening. You will become the legend you have always aspired to be, and you will have me to thank for this.”

“Okay,” he will say with forced bravado. “Do it.” He won’t actually believe me, but when a mad man claiming to be from the future holds a gun to your chest, sometimes it’s best to just accept it.

“It’s for your own good,” Future Thom will say. “Killing Baby Hitler raises too many questions. But killing you will save us all.”

Future Thom will pull the trigger. You will never read this story, because I will never have invented a time machine to go back in time to kill M. Night Shyamalan, because M. Night Shyamalan was mysteriously killed the night before the theatrical release of Signs, and the inexplicable and perplexing story of his death will be remembered for generations to come.

Hour

It was four o’clock in the morning when he fell asleep. His wife was asleep on her side of the bed (she was the one with a side, he could sleep on train tracks if the train’s lights were off). He remembers the time because he noted how odd it was that he should lay down to sleep at precisely the changing of the hours. So perhaps, it was 4:06 or 4:07 instead, because one does not usually fall right to sleep when head hits pillow unless that moment has been highly anticipated throughout the day (or days), but even sometimes especially then sleep does not come.

The point is, he fell asleep around four in the morning. Which is why it was strange that he should wake up at three in the morning, his wife still asleep on her side of the bed, no violent shaking to alert him of the fact that he slept through an entire day. He sat up, looked at his hands for no other reason than he’d seen confused people do that before in movies, and then stared at the clock. He watched the red numbers change from 3:00 to 3:01. He sipped water, and the first number did not change. He rubbed his eyes, and the first number did not change.

Perhaps he misread the clock and he fell asleep at two in the morning. Perhaps he did sleep through the day but he had looked so peaceful that his wife decided not to wake him. Perhaps he was losing his mind. He climbed out of bed without waking his wife and made his way to the kitchen. He sat at the table, then stood again, and walked to the fridge. He opened the door and stood in the light and the sudden cold. He realized that he was sweating.

He mulled around the kitchen that way, looking at things to see if they had changed in some inexplicable fashion. Satisfied that the world was the same as he had left it, just one hour younger, he climbed back into bed next to his wife, who had not shifted in his absence. Before he closed his eyes again he watched the red numbers shift. 3:59. 4:00.