27 July 2010

Maybe Logic Academy Meet-Up Diary, Oxford - July 2010

Pungenday, Confusion 62 - Year Of Our lady Of Discord 3176

Some (but not all) of the European members of the Maybe Logic Academy have been meeting up around the 'dog days' in summertime, for the past six years. The date was set to the 23rd of July because that was the day in 1973 that Robert Anton Wilson had a strange experience and thought he was receiving communication from an intelligence in the Sirius ("The Dog Star") system. He remained agnostic, as always, and later chalked it up to his right brain communicating with his left brain.

Past meet-ups were held in Milton Keynes, Berlin, Bruges, Amsterdam & Dublin. Berlin was an early candidate for the 2010 meet-up. I had been invited to the past few, but couldn't attend, due to not enough 'coin of the realm' in my account. Someone (Fuzzbuddy?) mentioned another UK location, which I was jazzed about, because for one: my passport had expired and I hadn't got round to having it renewed..and two: less kish-kash to spend on travel. The decision to hold number 6 in Oxford totally clinched it for me...I would finally be able to hang out with critters that I had communicated with on-line.

Here's how it went down - from my reality-tunnel..

Day One (Thursday, 22nd July) - Chris M. and Bogus Magus are due in at the train station at 1:15 p.m. I grab a bus to the city centre. When the bus just about reaches town, the sky opens and a downpour drenches the streets. It doesn't last long and soon the sun clears the clouds. I meet Fuzzbuddy at the station and soon Chris and Bogus join us. First stop is the backpacker's hostel where most of the crew will be staying. Chris had booked a room in a hotel down the road and he left to stow his gear there. Once the four of us are ready to hit the streets, it's nearly time for Tons, Borsky and Non-Prophet to arrive in town. They have ridden in via The Oxford Tube and are let off on the High Street. After introductions and greetings--it was back to the hostel. Bogus brought a stash of books for anyone to take. I chose a cool collection of Terry Southern's writings, called Now Dig This! . Fuzz brought copies of the 23 film (the cool German one, in which RAW has a cameo appearance - not the shit Jim Carrey 'thriller'), a DVD of lectures on James Joyce's Ulysses and a CD chock full of RAW audio, for everyone. Borsky also handed out a DVD-R with literally one hundred books on metaphysical, occult and esoteric matters--plus, official meet-up T-shirts. What treats!! I was stunned at their generosity! After a time, it's decided that food and drink are in order. Fly Agaric 23 and Diclonius still haven't arrived, but we all reckon they'll contact us when they do. The rest of us troop down to Broad Street, then on to the famous Turf Tavern. One of the beers on tap is Stonehenge Ale's Eye Opener, whose logo looks very familiar. I had to have a pint, natch! I bought one for Bogus, too. Turns out that the barrel emptied right after ours were poured--cheers to the Pookah for that! Much great conversation followed---on into the early evening. We then had a little reconnoiter around the area--before heading back to the 'Turf. Fly and Diclonius had arrived at this point and met us down there. More pints were downed, then it was almost closing time. Those who had gone without dinner grabbed some...er....food, at a roadside kebab van. I did as well, though I did come to regret that late-night cheeseburger the next morning. I bid my fellow MLA-ers adieu, as they were heading back to the hostel and I was catching the late bus home.

Day Two (Friday, 23rd July) - The time for me to meet the rest was given as 10:30 a.m., so I did my best to be up and ready. Owing to the somewhat late night - I was nearly late...but I managed to get to the others by the appointed time. Our first destination is the Pitt-Rivers Museum, full of interesting anthropological artifacts and even some dinosaur skeletons. N.P. and I were fascinated by the collection of weaponry, remarking on Bucky Fuller's aphorism, "developing ways to cover vaster and vaster distance and kill larger and larger amounts of people"..I'm paraphrasing, but you get the idea. Once we left the Pitt-Rivers, it was getting close to the luncheon hour. It was back to the 'Turf, but to our collective chagrin--the pub was full-up, this being optimum tourist season and all. We all squeezed into one of the side chambers of the King's Arms and enjoyed a half-decent lunch, for the money we paid. Oxford can be over-priced and is not immune from a bit of the ol' 'fleece-the-tourists' action. The plan was to head to the Bodleian Library and try and have a look at some of the old manuscripts and books. Not having been there before, I wasn't sure if one were allowed to just walk in. We found out that you need to take a tour, which costs about £3.50. After milling around the lobby for a bit, the B.L. idea was scrapped, in favour of punting. As there were nine of us, or eight at that point, we had to hire two punts. Diclonius, Tons, Fly and I were in one..and Fuzz, Borsky, Chris and Bogus the other. I found punting not as easy as it looks, but I suppose you can pick up the technique after a while. We all had turns in piloting the punt - Tons and Fly were especially good. Along the canal, a scene from the German version of Miss Marple was being filmed--so the camera crew kept stopping punts for a time, then letting them continue on. A joke started about a film-bloke, who had a walkie-talkie and an earpiece, saying "4 to 5 minutes..." to everyone, then remarking about how "some fruity chap has just fallen in the water." We all headed back to the hostel for a chill-out on the open terrace, with more discussion and Diclonius's amusing LSD-party anecdote. Once again, dinner plans were brought up and everyone wanted to stay close to the hostel. We decided to eat at Al Salam, a Lebanese restaurant just down the street. I quite enjoyed the meal and the waitcritter even obliged in taking a group photo of us. Once we finished eating - I thought it a good time to break for the night, so off I went to the bus stop. I heard that Fly, Borsky and Fuzz adjourned to a club, to sip a little absinthe. I am sorry I missed that.

Day Three (Saturday, 24th July) - I stuck to the 10:30 meet-up time and round about 11 a.m., everyone seemed ready to go. Well, mostly everybody - Fly and Diclonius elected to catch us up a bit later. Today, the Botanical Gardens was deemed to be the initial port of call. Again, a fee was required - which put most of us off the idea - so we had a stroll around the Christ Church college grounds and watched the punts go by. The Ashmolean Museum was the next stop. N.P. had some urgent business and headed back to the hostel. The museum had been re-furbished in the past year, so there was plenty to see. We had a good investigation of the ancient Egypt section, as well as the Cretan and Greek displays. Since we didn't have too much time to explore, we headed up to the Chinese and Japanese sections. Borsky, Fuzz, Bogus and I had a look round the gift shop--but walked away with no treasures. A stop at a cafe was in order, caffeine for most of the crew and fruit juice for me. We ambled back to the hostel (after another round at the 'Turf, natch!) for another chill-out sesh...and then it was time for Bill Spectre's Oxford Ghost Trail. Bill himself seems an amiable bloke and he gets points from me for being a King Crimson fan (he noticed my T-shirt when we were purchasing our places on the trail). Bill has a great theatrical style and also makes use of props (a book that bursts into flame, a key that emits electrical sparks, etc.). He led us around various spots in Broad Street and the High Street, detailing strange and often macabre events that happened there. Once Bill's tour ended, I was starving. We couldn't all agree on one place to get food, so Chris and I decamped to the Cafe Coco Restaurant. I had a scrumptious mushroom pizza and Chris ordered a massive canole. We discussed various things and then it was back to the hostel, for an experimental virtual meeting via Skype. N.P. managed to get B. Kane on the video link, all the way from Norway. There were really funny moments, like B.'s game of "Book Bingo" and the misapprehension of a cigarette-holder that once belonged to Errol Flynn. A bit later, Bobby Campbell was on-line and though we couldn't have a split-screen convo with both of them, everyone could still hear each other. Bobby let us know that he's developing new artwork for re-prints of two Tim Leary books that have been long out-of-print. Huzzah! I can't wait to buy those! It was a remarkable ending to a brilliant day. Once the lap-tops were put away, we all trooped down to the street for some air...and I said "good night" to the crew and once again ambled on toward the bus stop. I was given a plague mask by Fuzzbuddy, as he had extras--and I was tempted to wear it back to the bus stop, but I feared it would have been wrecked by one of the drunken revelers spilling out of the pubs.

Day Four (Sunday, 25th July) - Feeling a bit washed-out from the previous three day's adventures, I made the journey into town. I arrived at the hostel as the rest of the crew were preparing to leave--lots of packing and tidying the room. We made our way to George Street, which is dotted with coffee bars and little eateries. We stopped at one, so everyone could get their caffeine fix and some breakfast. Borsky needed to get back to London fairly early, so after a few photos - he and Tons and N.P. headed for the bus station, with the rest of us in tow. Good-byes and well-wishes all around and then the three boarded the coach bound for The Big Smoke. Fly, Fuzz, Bogus and I walked down to Great Clarendon Street and found the Jude The Obscure pub. I hadn't been there in ages and I had forgotten how much I liked it. We had a couple of rounds. Fly mentioned he was going to see Inception at the cinema later in the afternoon. A bit of time passed and it was decided we should move on. I parted from the rest at around 3 p.m., as I had to buy a few gifts for the goodwyf. I finally arrived home at 4:30 p.m. and was quite exhausted.

Such a lovely time - I hope to be able to participate in next year's gathering. All Hail Eris! All Hail Pope Bob!

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