Sailing the
Seas of Feg.


. Date: Tue, 30 Mar 1999 
From: Natalie JacobsSubject: Sailing the seas of Feg: a nautical tale

Day 12

Still adrift on the Mare Ad Nauseum.  Food and water supplies running low,
and my boat has begun to spring leaks.  Last night I found myself
positively soaked in old Grateful Dead flame-war posts - they burned like
acid.  I had to use some of my precious fresh water to take away the sting.

The silence here is deafening.  Only the shouts and faint cannon fire of
distant battles come dimly over the choppy waves.  I stand in the bows,
shading my eyes against the bright sun, to determine their origin - could
they be from the Brian Wilson list, or perhaps another volley from
COSTELLO-L? - but my eyes are too weak.  My faithful quail, Allen, however,
chuckles at each puff of smoke and muffled curse, but he is not revealing
his secrets.  He sits in the stern and puffs his speckled feathers, and
keeps his counsel.

Day 14

A boat!  At last!  I shout and jump about as best I can, as my own craft
tips dangerously, but there is no response from the miserable figures
huddled in their little skiff.  They are all discussing something amongst
themselves in somber, deathly serious tones, and only when I catch the
words "tortured genius" and hear a snatch of finger-picked guitar do I
realize that these travellers, so wan and solemn, are the damned souls of
the Mare Ad Nauseum, doomed to drift forever discussing the same four
albums over and over again.  They are Nick Drake fans.  I bow my head in
horror as they pass by.

Day 17

Food is running perilously low, so I try some fishing.  My first attempt
dredges up some posts about English football - a little starchy, but I
munch on them anyway.  Then, to my delight, I catch that well-known
delicacy, a Victorian squid.  It's greasy and hot and I bolt it down
immediately.  It makes me nostalgic for those happy days on board the good
ship Feg, when Eddie would encourage mutiny on a daily basis and Eb would
rant from the crow's nest, when woj would rule over us benignly and Dolph
would dolph sweetly to the accompaniment of his guitar.  Oh, if it were not
for that fateful night, after drinking chocolate liqueur with Vivien and LJ
- - that terrible fight we got into over who would bear Jeff Mangum's love
child - and the black-out, the dreadful void which followed. . .  I woke in
the life-boat, with no ship in sight, and only Allen, the secretive fowl,
to keep me company.  When will I ever find them again?

Day 18

As I work at shelling a Dlang tortoise (a small, fantastically-colored
creature, rare outside of Australian waters), I hum to myself
absent-mindedly, inspired perhaps by the sea air and the incessant rocking
of the boat.  "Do something for me, boys. . . if I should die at sea, boys.
. ."  Immediately my song is drowned out by a clamor of voices: a large
ship has materialized out of nowhere, as if conjured by my words.  They all
seem to be discussing. . .  "Easter Theater"??   I've called up a boatload
of Chalkhillians!  ( the XTC list  )First one, then a dozen of them lean over the side of
their ship, begging me for demo tapes.  They are all lean and starved from
seven years of deprivation - a horrible sight.  I throw tortoise entrails
at them and then in desperation I launch into my Dagmar Krause imitation.
That frightens them off.

My god, the Mare Ad Nauseum is even more dangerous than I ever guessed!

Day 19

Some good has come of the Chalkhillians' visit.  In the wake of their
passage, one of their posts was thrown into my boat by accident: a large,
squashy beast, rather like a jellyfish, which flips and struggles on the
damp boards, reeking of hyperbole.  Upon closer examination, it proves to
be a post comparing the water droplets at the beginning of "River of
Orchids" to the rain at the end of "Travels in Nihilon."  Allen flies
enthusiastically around it, meeping, "H2O!  H2O!",  sounding for all the
world like a chemistry teacher.  Finally, I realize what he is trying to
say and, pulling out one of my nearly-empty water buckets, I hold the post
over it and wring it out like a washcloth.  To my delight, a torrent of
fresh water pours out of it!  I weep for joy.  Now I can continue my quest!
When I catch a Tropical Flesh Mandala later this evening, I give every
morsel to the wily quail.

Day 20

We are becalmed.  The sky has faded to a soft blue-grey, the ocean is
perfectly smooth, and a light fog hides the horizon.  For some reason, I am
unworried by all of this.  I feel strangely. . .  calm.  The very air seems
to breathe forth stillness.  I have lain here all day, trailing my hand in
the water, oblivious even to Allen's agitated fluttering.  I am dimly aware
of. . . music, yes, music, at the very edge of my hearing.  Such pleasant
music. . .

Eventually, hunger stirs me, and I drop the line into the translucent
water.  The line grows incredibly heavy and I pull up a dull metallic
object, like a weighty crown - certainly not edible.  What is it?  After
some examination, I realize that it is, in fact, a King's Lead Hat.  We are
marooned in the Eno Sea.  If I do not act soon, I will never see my beloved
Fegs again.

Day 20 (continued)

Aid has come, once again in an unlikely form.  We have a stowaway.  He says
he is a native of this country, though he speaks with a strong New Zealand
accent, and appears to be wearing a tiny XTC badge.  He resembles a small,
hairy flightless bird, though he claims to be able to take on any form.
"Call me the Dignan," he says, strutting about on the bowsprit.  "I can
show you the way back to the Feg Ship."  Allen looks at him askance, but
says nothing.  Should I trust the Dignan?  It appears that I have little

Day 21

Disaster has struck!  Oh, why didn't I trust the all-knowing quail?  The
Dignan promised to call up a wind that would free us from the deathly
stillness of the Eno Sea and carry us back to Feggish waters, but when he
perched on the side of the boat and whistled up a breeze, instead we were
shaken from stem to stern by a massive gale!  Now the two birds huddle in
the bottom of the boat while I cling desperately to the side, the howling
winds rocking us to and fro; the waves are ten and twenty feet high and
crash continuously into the boat itself, drenching us with ancient
colloquies; I even find myself spitting out a mouthful of "Perspex Island"
reviews!  Oh, it tastes stale and foul.  The Dignan weeps and beats his
breast with his tiny, functionless wings, but I refuse to accept his
apologies.  Surely we will be dashed on the infamous Troll Shoals (where
the evil Rogerjackson sings his siren song), which loom out of the storm at
us like... well, big black rocks.  Not even during the Brian Wilson Wars
have I been so terrified.  Will we survive?  Allen seems hopeful, but I
cannot say.

Day 23

After a night of bailing and fitful sleep, I am awakened by a series of
shrill cries cutting through the howling wind like the shrieks of a dozen
seagulls.  Sitting up, I see an evil-looking craft leaping over the waves
in my direction.  As it draws closer, I can see that it is painted pink
with myriad decals of flowers, butterflies, and Sanrio characters.  A chill
that surpasses even that of the icy water runs up my spine.  I have
encountered those dread predators of the Mare Ad Nauseum: the Indie-Pop

As the ship draws closer, a girl wearing cat's-eye glasses and far too many
barrettes leans over the side.  "Give us your 7-inches or prepare to be
boarded!" she snarls, brandishing a razor-sharp copy of Belle & Sebastian's
"Tigermilk."  "Never!" I cry back, unwilling to admit my unhipness in never
having even owned a 7-inch.  More girls with too many barrettes, and boys
in stripy T-shirts and horn-rimmed glasses, begin to swarm over the side.
Just in time, I discover a battered yet still functioning copy of
"Everything Is" wedged under the boards of my boat and fling it in the
direction of the Indie-Pop Pirate Queen, neatly decapitating her.
Horrified by the death of their leader, the pirates retreat.  "Wimps!" I
call after them.  "Exactly!" says one of the pirates, before they board
their craft again and sail off into the storm.

Day 24

The night passes in the same manner as the night before, but stranger and
stranger creatures are turning up on my fishing lines, or are being tossed
into the boat.  A two-headed boy all floating in glass; a liarbird, at
which Allen hisses and bridles; a Queen of Eyes, her black lace tattered
and torn and her carapace broken; a particularly vicious-looking
can-opener; even the rare and elusive King Bee, though his wings be furled.
All of them are dead; none are edible.  My stomach contracts with hunger.

At last the storm begins to abate.  As the waves calm, and the sky clears,
I see that the water has turned the friendly lustrous gold of Brewer Tom's
concoctions, and the surface is broken by leaping schools of glittering
runion-fish.  And in the distance - in the distance is the Feg ship,
brilliantly colored in the newly-risen sun!  I have come home!

"So you did get us home!" I say to the Dignan, who puffs himself up and
looks very pleased with himself.  "Didn't I say so?" he squeaks.

As my boat draws closer, I see Fegs on the ship, waving.  I wave back, my
heart overflowing with joy.  I can hear strains of "Leppo and the Jooves"
being played, discussion of Olivia Tremor Control and "Storefront
Hitchcock," the Sharkboy dispensing happies hither and yon, Eb dismissing
everyone's favorite records, and Jon Fetter weaving his latest tale to an
attentive crowd.  Ah, bliss.

None other than woj himself drops a line so that Allen, the Dignan, and I
can ascend to the deck.  We are welcomed by many, given EB beer and
centipede liqueur to drink, and offerings of roots and bulbs.  Then I turn
around and see Vivien and LJ, arm-in-arm, accompanied by a sullen young man
clutching a zanzithophone.  "Who's this?" I say in confusion.

Vivien and LJ both beam.  "Jeff Mangum's love child," they say in unison.

Clearly I have been away longer than I thought

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