LORDS OF
THE THINGS
In a time not so distant, in a land not so far away, a quest
was begun.  From time immortal, the peoples of the
south had trekked their way to the land  of Norte.  The
hordes would crash upon its boarder like water on rock.  
Faced with the proposition of degrading poverty and
desolate lands they saw the lands of the Norte as eternal
springs of hope and treasure.  But the greener grass
was filled with parasites and ones who would slither
through its underbelly searching for the weak and
desperate to prey upon.
  It was during this backdrop of time that 13 brave souls, in search of adventure, sand and sea would forge their way to the lands of the
South against the rolling tide of Hispanic humanity.  A
fellowship was formed and these 13 life-weary travellers plunged away from their
docile security in life to conquer, tame and squeeze the reckless abandonment of their souls for nothing more than unadulterated
pleasure.  These 13 of different lifestyles, homelands and temperament would push themselves to the limit of endurance while in
pursuit of the one realm, the one age, the one...thing.  These 13 would become known to peoples of the South as "The Lords of the
Thing."
  The Kings of Toyland had been invited to participate in the quest by none other than the formidable foe of safe driving, Brian, "Tengo
Mucha Prisa" (I'm in a Hurry) Friedman.  Along with his lovely wife,
Jennifer "Piernas" (Legs) and her brother, Josh "The Muchacho of
Mayhem," we set out from the ancient lands of Phoenix, south to the forbidden doorway of desperadoes, the country of cucarachas and
the world of Cabo Wabo...Mexico.  Riding along with them with their white broncos was the always pleasant, "Three Alarm Chili" Heidi.  
The Kings of Toyland felt especially honored to be included with the likes of these royal pains in the burros.  I, Daniel "No Rapido" Rush,
had gathered the other
(bald) heads of state, Kenny "Tres Equis" (XXX) and Jimmy "Senor Gato" (Cat Dude) to venture forth with me on
this most dangerous adventure.  My silver stallion (CR-V) had a bad shoe (threadbare timing belt) but was up for the challenge of
guiding us through the wastelands to the Spanish Dominion on the
coast of the Sea of Cortez.
  Soon we found that two other members of the Round Mesa (Table) had joined our quest, Brian "Tijuana Taxi" and Natalie "
Ojos Azules" (Blue Eyes).  They had brought their own steeds and talents that would be inherently vital to our quest.  The Tijuana Taxi
would prove to be invaluable as the"Designated Haul Our Burros" to the far reaches of the citadel.  Ojos Azules was the only member
who spoke the native language with fluidity.  Besides that, she could tango like the wind does with the trees!
  Our journey moved along swiftly as we careened at breakneck speeds to keep up with unlimitless power of the white broncos.  Barely
slowing at the specter of death they charged to the first way station in the desert of doom, Gila Bend.  A dusty outpost on the outskirts of
familiar things we stopped to feast at the welcome respite of the Kingdom of Burgers.  We still had a full hour of galloping to do to reach
the border and all of its imperils.  "Tengo Mucha Prisa" was soon spurring his bronco into thoroughbred speeds and the others and I
are driving our horses into the ground to keep pace.  I curse his very existence as my loyal silver stallion is moaning under the
relentless push of my spurs.  But as the fool, George Costanza, would say, "We're making great time!"
  We have now sidled up to edge of darkness.  We are at the brink of all knowable knowns.  Everything and anything we do beyond
this point could land us in a perpetual dungeon.  The extra satchels of gold that I bring are not for Cuban cigars, they are for bribes!  
We are at the Mexican Territorial border.  We purchase what they call Mexican Insurance because our insurance is no good in Mexico.  
We have paid our first bribe, $34.57 for the weekend.  The horse feed (gas) has also been inflated to an exorbitant rate, $2.39!  
Outrageous!  The highwaymen are alive and doing very well robbing the travellers of the world!  I will never enter Mexico's boundary at
the incredible price...Huh?  Oh, we are still in our own land?  You mean they are charging us the outlandish prices to expand the
coffers of that irascible thief,
King George Bush of the Columbian District!!  Balderdash!!
  "Tengo Mucha Prisa" has informed us that we have little over an hour to get to our next destination which is three days away.  We will
now be speeding through bandito territory and we are the banditos!  After smiling meekly at the border guards who are armed like Orcs,
we are soon crossing the plains of Mexico at 150 km/h!  This translates into about 95 cubits per hour!  The squalor and dire straits of
these people is heart wrenching.  The number of buildings that have been started, then looted, and then never finished is
astonishing.  I think about jumping down from my high horse, grabbing a shovel and begin building a foundation for a new hospital to
help these poor people but...I cannot as we must continue to speed to our castle on the ocean!  The quest must come first, according to
Brian "The Gonzales of Speed."  We charge to our destination in a final flurry of dust, oil and stressed out nerves.  We have entered the
coastal city of Puerto   Peñasco, a.k.a., Rocky Point.  The dizzying
array of signage would be worse, except I cannot read most of
them.  The ones I can read are laughable: "
Alien Beef Jerky," "8/12 Store," a poor man's 7-11 and "Pharmacia - Viagra, Steroids, Levitra
and Bubblegum."  Talk about a cocktail!  I bet that stuff will help my quest!
  We stop to gather supplies.  Of course you cannot drink the water here in Shadowland and we brought plenty of it.  So the only other
supplies we will need are the magical elixir, cerveza or better known as beer.  We stop into one of the many distributors and find that
they do not sell Corona here!  Since Mexicans believe you need fruit with your beer, chances are small we will find anything good.  We
buy an
army's worth of "Sol" beer and find out we have to return the bottles!  There goes the fireplace toasts to good health!Â
  The highlight of any trip to Mexico involves legally buying Cuban cigars.  Of course we cannot bring them back with us to our
homeland but they may be enjoyed casually after our attainment of the "Thing."Â  I buy three of the aromatic stogies for the Kings of
Toyland.  The cost is mucho.  150 pesos ($15 each)!  I do not like to peso much!  But for the enjoyment of compadres, I will pay any
price!  That's why they call me King Bling Bling!
  As we turn towards the coast and to our ten-million peso Castillo, we pass the remarkable Library of Los Conchas and the bones of a
prehistoric dragon that was slain in another epoch.  The road turns to dust and we reach the kingdom of which will rule from, "Los
Conchas."Â  Here from the ruins of the Mayan civilization, rise hundreds of rental castles that were built for the narcissistic Americans
who bedevil this town when they are bored.  Ours is a magnificent, three-story,
white monolith along the shores of the sea.  Tile as far
as the eye can see, a satellite dish and a view that stretches your peripheral vision until it snaps.  We get lost in its passageways while
claiming room rights.  I claim one room but I am unable to find it again!  We unstock our
supplies and hit the beach.  There will be no
dragon slaying today.  Debauchery is the order of the day and the drinking has begun!
  The Damsels have decided it is time to eat.  We have chosen a restaurant that was recommended for our feast or fiesta, whichever.  
We all pile ourselves onto Brian the Tijuana Taxi's horse and make our way to the village to eat at "Aqui es con Flavio"Â  An
establishment as loud as a Gondorian horn, on the water and away from Orcs.  It is here that we meet some others of our growing
fellowship.  Karsten, "El Hombre" and his lovely senorita, Rebecca "Bonita Booty" have been lingering long here for our arrival.  There
is much joy.
  As we begin seating ourselves at 8:30 PM we are informed by the wait staff that the cooks are tired and will not be cooking anymore
food!  What?!  Siesta time again!  The level of hospitality of this land has taken a serious blow in my eyes.  We go next door where
they have begged us to come in.  Bad portend number one.  Still in doubt what the Mexican food will do to my gastronomics, I order
dead animal, filet mignon.  The others feast on the local fare without much distress.  As I begin to eat the carcass they have served, I
begin to believe that I'm eating Smarty Jones!  Any contamination will have to be killed with alcohol.  Much laughter later we are back at
the Castillo.  We head to the parapet at the top of the castle to enjoy the star show.  Our arms tire from pointing out the shooting
stars.  We can see the milk of the Milky Way!  But this serene scene comes to crashing halt as the
Muchacho of Mayhem (on right) has
decided that life is not worth living without the benefits of Captain Morgan.  He does that stupid pose from the commercials and avers,
"Thou who have snatcheth me spirited grog shall be slain with thy Frisbee!"Â  Disaster is averted as he finds it where he left it and
promptly drops it.
  The new day is upon us and it is met with hunger.  We gallop to the outer banks of the citadel and find an oasis of plenty in this land
of the needy.  We are at the famed
Playa Bonita (BeautifulBeach) Resort.  We pay shillings for a feast as we are awash in ocean
breezes.  I gird my loins for my first taste of local culinary.  It is awful.  I have pancakes instead.  We pose for
paintings to
commemorate the occasion.  We decide to walk the shores of the sea and revel in the sun while scoping
damsels.  We are soon
faced with mortal danger as we encounter a
monster from the deep!  It has washed itself ashore to attack unsuspecting heroes.  I
unleash my fierce pocket piranha and soon an
epic battle ensues!  The ornery sea serpent is cast aside and our leisurely walk
continues.  The pocket piranha gains the spoils of being a victor and relaxes by
having a cigarette.
  We once again ride our steeds through the Plains of Peñasco.  As we approach the castle we find ourselves beckoned by the final
members of our fellowship, Chris "Viva Santana!" and Lisa "Rubio Inteligenté" (Intelligent Blonde).  These two escapees from the
hinterlands (Philadelphia) have been on our trail for miles and we greet them with much merriment.  The final pieces are complete!  
The true fellowship has assembled and the quest can now begin in earnest.  These 13 hearty "Warriors of Wonder" can take homage
in knowing that if one should falter...the others will run.
  The fellowship decides that it will be best to scout locations by dividing up.  The young decide to embolden their skills by playing
chariot (ATV) games.  Some may find this a good day to die, some will surely better their skills but all are surely out of their minds.  The
Kings of Toyland will ready themselves for the quest by lounging near the
beach head and working the hammer throw (Frisbee).
  The fellowship reassembles and it is time to find the one mark, the one move, the one "thing" that will change life for all of mankind.  
But not before the last supper!  We return to our favorite food establishment and eat as if it is our last meal.  For some, it may be, for
others, it is an excuse for debauchery.  Soon we are
dining on snake, playing with the band and drinking shots of tequila off each others
bodies.  We are threatened with ex-communication by the local dignitaries for our un-knightly ways.  I, the most sober of personalities,
tried to corral the insanity but it is out my hands!  Soon though they realize their quest could end in ignominy and it is time to find our
"Thing."
  And we believe it is at the discotheque!  We charge hard into battle.  Limbs are flailing, feet are flying and the horrid screams of pain
and suffering are heard above the din of dance music.  Yes, I am dancing.  The
battle rages on through blood, sweat and beers.  It
seems as if there is no end in sight.  Beautiful women inundate the floor.  I am surrounded and am soon beating them off with
my Irish
jig.  I fall in exhaustion but am able to amass the crew to continue on in battle.  Our horses have left the battle field and we are forced to
ride each other.  The fellowship has fought with singular bravery and we have won the night.  We leave only to be confronted by the
largest catapult known to mankind!  Wanting to better understand the complexities of the enemy's weaponry we hail two volunteers to sit
in it while they are projected hundreds of kilometers into the air.  Rubio and Tres XXX put their lives on the line and are hurtled skyward
to the domain of the Gods.  Cradled in a giant gum band they raise and fall at the speed of a horse with its tail on fire.  Bouncing like a
piñata that has been struck by Sammy Sosa they become green to the gills and as dizzy as a margarita on frappe.  Brave souls
indeed, foolish, but brave.  Do not they realize there is no OSHA here!
  Having had the opportunity to attain the one "Thing" we all have had thirst for we realize we have one final day to enjoy on escape to the
Spanish Dominion.  After packing our gear and bidding farewell to our royal castle we head to the local aquarium for insight into the
many strange and bewildering animals that were swimming around our feet.  It is ghastly!  Sea Turtles the age and size of Shelly
Winters, jellyfish the color of peanut butter and moray eels that are...moray eels!  We amuse ourselves by feeding the seals as the
"bark"; at us.  But the conditions that these poor creatures exist in are woeful.  They would be better off in Lake  Erie.
  We had one final sortie to carry out before we could resume our trek back to the "Land  of Norte," a shopping spree!  We traverse the
Mexican landscape in search of the purveyors of pulp and circumstance, or more commonly known as the "Dirt Mall."Â  Hobbling through
the dirt roads of Mexican enterprise we finally come to a dusty street of clapboard shops and adobe huts.  Lined along this Rodeo   
Drive of ready wear are thousands of wares from all parts of the world: Cuban cigars, Iranian leather ware, Mexican pottery, Peruvian
undergarments, Indonesian t-shirts, Belgium glasswork and even American Barbies that are made in China.  We tease the merchants
with interest while flashing dinero as they sink prices to entice us to buy junk for pennies on the dollar.  I buy embroidered t-shirts and
other assorted sundries of disuse.  Brian has enlisted OjosAzules to entreat the vendors to lowering their poverty selling prices more.  
He buys a chiminea, a free standing Mexican fireplace pot that is popular in the Southwest.
  The Kings of Toyland decide it is no longer in our best interest to follow "Tengo Mucha Prisa" back to our realm and depart full of
desire to get back to MacDonald's, Sears and OSHA safety.  We manage to find our way to the border.  As I pull up to the guard station I
notice the Border Patrol agent is distracted by some malevolence in another line.  I suppose he has no interest in welcoming us
lordships back from our wide adventures in Shadowland so I proceed to spur the horse and move on.  Just then the Border Guard
explodes, "Where do you think you are going?!  This is an International Border!  You must stop!  Apologetically, I shrug my shoulders
and say, "Do you know who I am!!  I'm the King of Toyland, Emancipator of the Barfinians, Holder of the Royal Scepter of Dormont and a
Steeler fan!"  Unexpectedly, he did not fall to his knee to kiss my ring.  "Whatever, give me your license."  I started to think back to all of
my sins and hoped they would not appear on his green screen.  With King George W. in office I may be killed for that minor
transgression of burning down my high school.  "Okay you Royal Scepter Holding Steeler Freak, on your way."  The indignity!  I
harrumphed and goaded my steed back to the realm.
  As Brian "Tijuana Taxi"; and Natalie "OjosAzules" made their way across the border they were asked if they had anything to declare to
Customs.  Taxi replied, "Just that POT in the back.  Oops!  I didn't mean "Pot" I meant chiminea!"  Too late, they searched him.
  So what was the "Thing?"  What was worth all of this adventure and danger to cross into an unknown foreign land and possibly die
from eating a tainted ice cube?  I guess it depended on who you asked.  For "Tengo Mucha Prisa" it was to entice friends to mortal
danger and see how they would react under extreme pleasure.  For Jennifer "Piernas,"it was to
get curled and grope a mermaid.  The
Muchacho of Mayhem was in search of the ultimate buzz and got stung.  "Three Alarm Chili" Heidi received the body shot she always
wanted and was awarded the distinguished "
Shrimp Rider of Peñasco" award.  But for others such as Brian "Tijuana Taxi" and Natalie
"OjosAzules" it was to
dance with royalty (it's my story!) and riding the flock to its destination.  Karsten, "El Hombre" and senorita,
Rebecca "Bonita Booty" found out more about each other and that
Rebecca liked Lisa more than him, bummer dude!  Lisa "Rubio
Inteligenté" (Intelligent Blonde) learned she had musical talent to go along with her
goofy dancing.  Chris "Viva Santana!" found that
his Thing was that stupid game,
Jenga.  As for the Kings of Toyland, they mastered the Toys.  Jimmy "Senor Gato" (Cat Dude) also
proved to be an excellent dancer but we never did cure him of that revolting mermaid fetish.  Kenny "Tres Equis" (XXX) lived up to his
name by returning from the beach naked as someone took his clothes but he also managed to make
one hell of a Frisbee catch!  Me, I
achieved more than all.  I managed to survive
Mexico!
Asta la vista!
Cactus de Acero
(SteelCactus)