• SUPPORT THE SHOW AND ENJOY A PREMIUM PARACAST EXPERIENCE! Welcome to The Paracast+, five years young! For a low subscription fee, you will be able to download the ad-free version of The Paracast and the exclusive After The Paracast podcast, featuring color commentary, exclusive interviews, the continuation of interviews that began on the main episode of The Paracast. We also offer lifetime memberships! FLASH! For a limited time, you can save up to 40% on your subscription. Long-term susbcribers will receive a free coupon code for the James Fox UFO documentary "The Phenomenon," which includes 3 hours of extras, while supplies last. It's easier than ever to susbcribe! You can sign up right here!

    Subscribe to The Paracast Newsletter!

Looking back ..


Staff member
Doing last weeks show with Jim Speiser and The Paranet BBS systems, it really caused me to do a bit of kicking the dusty corners of my mind. After all, this was the reason I began my crazy journey into the field of UFOs and the paranormal. After my medical retirement from law enforcement I realized how by buying that first computer completely turned my life upside down. At the time of course, I had no idea what that computer purchase would mean .. long term. At that point, around 1987, the world was first feeling the effects of what the PC might mean to the public, business, and other areas of life we today take for granted. Not all of it was serious and I found out when I purchased my first computer game. The following humorous vignette, in hindsight, later showed me the power of computers and the danger of too much time on your hands. By the way, I originally wrote this around 2001. A brief glimpse into my first experience with computers.

Tandy Catolog.jpg

Me and my Tandy .. Part 1

Computers and electronics, the truth is, I am a total sucker for anything electronic. I have bought stuff, spending thousands of dollars and I truly didn’t have much of a clue as to what it was or what I could do with it! That is the God’s truth. However, there is just something about electronic stuff that winds up my motor. Even as a small kid I wanted the electronic stuff way over other stuff like baseball gloves, footballs or basketballs. Oh, don’t mistake me ... I played all those sports, even played college ball, but I loved the electronic stuff. I kind of dug it when in the Army in Viet Nam, I was called upon to lug around the PRC -10 radios. I got to play with all the neat stuff and attachments that went with them. Of course, I have to admit that sometimes in 95- degree heat with 375 percent humidity it did get a little old. BUT... had personal computers been around in the 60’s my life would have been Oh-SO- Different!

With PCs, it has been my experience that you either LOVE THEM or you DAMN THEM TO HELL! I have yet to meet anyone who is ambivalent about them. And like I said--I Love Them. And have loved them since I bought my very first one back in late, late 1986. True to form, when I bought my first one I didn’t have an inkling what it could do or more to the point, what I could do with it.

Back in 1986, I was being medically retired. I had been injured on the job, spent several months in the hospital, had just gone through a divorce and ended up with more dollars (at that time) than was good for me. I was going through physical rehab and needed something to keep me occupied. Like I said, not being married anymore I had this . . . money. All the expenses I had were just my townhouse mortgage and my car payments.

Somewhere along the line I got this mail order catalog. On page one was this personal computer. I started to pay attention. I checked out the pictures, and it all looked pretty neat. Naturally those catalogs really work to encourage that buyer’s fever, and I caught some. Now, about 10 blocks or so from my townhouse was a Radio Shack. I decided one afternoon to wander in and see what they said about all this. I shoved the catalog in my back pocket and took off.

Wouldn’t you just know it, but when I got inside, low and behold, Radio Shack was having a computer sale! Whoopee! I gotta tell you, I started to salivate. The manager of this Radio Shack was a pretty young guy, and very sharp. Did I mention that he was also a sweet talker? I think he had his eye on the CEO position at Tandy Corp. somewhere down the road. We started to .... communicate ....... “Hey,” I began (kind of breathless), “I been thinking about, oh you know, maybe looking into eh, you know, buying a computer.” I whipped out my by now pretty crumpled- up mail order catalog. Then, shoving it under his nose, I pointed to the computer they had on page one. (I think it was a FRANKLIN. Worked off the Apple OS or some such.) Anyway, he looked at it and kind of wrinkled his nose. “Nah, you really don’t want that,” he said, “you will have a tough time finding software for it.” Now he’d said a magic word, software. “Ah, software?” I asked. Thinking hard, I tried to imagine what he was talking about although I think I had heard the term. “Yeah, software,” he began confidently. He now had the fish on the hook and he began to reel me in carefully. “The programs that you can run with the computer.” Oh yes, I thought. Of course, yeah the magic stuff that made the computer do its thing!

cont. next msg ..


Staff member

“What you really want is the computer to handle the IBM programs,” he continued, speaking in a measured tone. “You want to work off of DOS!” Now he did it again. What in hell was DOS? So I asked him. “DOS,” he answered. “It means the Disk Operating System!” Now he sounded so sure, I was convinced that DOS it must be! “OKAY!” I told him. “So, lets see what you got!” Man, I was jazzed. I hadn’t heard this much electronic talk since my days with the PRC-10!

He led me over to his display, and I must have let him see the sparkle in my eyes. “Now, we have got a great special on this one! Let me show you my personal favorite . . The Tandy 1000 EX! It comes with a CGA Monitor and 256-K of memory! Plus, it is fired up with DOS 2 point 1!” (I gotta tell you up front, I didn’t have a damned clue what he just said. But oh brother, did I love it! What was staring back at me was a keyboard, one a lot bigger than the keyboards of today. This ‘keyboard’ WAS the computer. It had an internal 5-1/4 inch 360-K floppy drive in it. Period. The CGA monitor was a 13-inch screen, and later after the whole thing was hooked up and running I could actually count the pixels on it. But I get ahead of myself.

Hmm. I began to think about what he had just told me. “This memory you mentioned. Is that all there is, or can you put more in it?” I asked, sharing just a glimmer of thinking ahead. “Oh, sure” he said. Later I was to realize he was mentally adding up all the extras he could probably sell me. “You can put in enough memory to run it all the way up to 640-K.” And then he smiled. He knew how to hook me. “You see, the more memory you have, the faster your computer works. When you load a program in the computer via the disk drive, it puts it right into memory. The more memory you have, the more of the program you can have read. So what that means is this: If you only have 256-K it will only load so much then it has to go to the disk and read it, slowing you down.” Now that kind of made sense to me. Oh yeah, we definitely have got to have more memory. “Tell me, how much is 256-K? What does that mean in the `real world?” Now I beginning to catch on, I thought. Hey, I didn’t want this guy to think I was a total putz.

He gave me a blank stare. “256 K means two hundred and fifty-six thousand bytes of memory. That is a quarter of a megabyte!”

Now I was lost again. “A quarter of a what?” I asked him.

“A megabyte. In other words, a quarter of a MILLION Bytes!” “Whoa..” I understood a million. A million of anything was impressive enough for me. So, if I bought more memory . . . . my head now really started to swim. So I okayed him upping the memory to 384-K. Seems like at that point I needed something else in the computer to go all the way to 640 K and he didn’t have one. (However I did get it about a week later.) Oh yes, I also bought an external disk drive that was a 31/2 inch disk that handled 740-K. (Wow. Now we were talking cause that meant ‘in the real world’ 3/4 quarters of a million bytes, whatever in hell they were.) I also got talked into a printer, another Tandy Special. After all, once you had something in the computer you’ve got to have a way to get it out. Remember that this was 1987, virtually eons ago, computer-wise. The Internet was not yet around for all us home users, and I had not yet discovered BBS’s. If you don’t know what they are, plug it into a search engine. Do a little research. It is hard to believe how ancient those days are.

Oh, yes -- one other item that I bought that day. And when I tell you that it changed my life, I do not exaggerate. In passing this guy mentioned a ‘modem’.

“A what?” I asked. Now I could start to feel the pinch of my wallet.

“A modem,” he stated emphatically.

“Okay, what is a modem?” Now I was starting to feel just the tiniest bit taken advantage of.

“Well if you have a modem you can communicate with other computers around the world.” Then he smirked. Now, with that bit of information rattling around in my head I began to hyperventilate just a little.

Well I bought one. And today with 56-K baud modems for under $30 you will roll off your chair when I tell you how much that cost. Did I mention it was a 300 baud unit? Oh yes, a 300-baud modem for a mere $100.

I walked out of there after laying down about $1,200. Today, of course, if I had all that stuff in pristine condition I couldn’t give it away. But in the end I had a Tandy 1000 EX computer with 384-K of memory, an internal 5-1/4 inch 360 K floppy drive, an external 31/2 inch 740-K drive, a CGA Monitor, a 300-baud modem, a box of 10 floppy 5-1/4 inch 360 K disks, DOS 2.1 and a stand to put the monitor on, a dot matrix printer and assorted cables.

Now I will say this: After the Radio Shack closed he came over to my townhouse and helped me set the whole damned thing up. He also showed me how to use it to format a disk to make a copy of the DOS disk. This was WAY before Windows was on the scene; everything worked from DOS. (And even though I am embarrassed to admit it now, the only thing I could do with that computer was to format the DOS disks. I used up the whole box making DOS floppies. I just spent $1,200 on it, I had to do something with it!)

I do not want to sound sour grapes, because I really grew to love that little 1000 EX computer, but had I known what I was doing I could have done SO MUCH betterwith the money I spent. I learned a lesson after buying it. The reason Radio Shack had a sale (and I really didn’t save much money at all) was because they had phased out the 1000 EX. (It, by the way, sported an 8088 CPU. Totally anemic). They were going to a new 286 series and wanted to unload their stock. They burned me one more time on the next computer I bought there, but I will save that for another day.

cont. next ..


Staff member
The 300-baud modem is a story in itself. I discovered Compuserve, or as it became known, CI$. At $6 hour if you used a 300 baud modem. It you were fancy and had a 1,200 baud modem, that bounced you up to about $12 AN HOUR! 2,400 baud modems were (in those days) the stuff dreams were made of. Actually as time went on and I started to learn computers I began to write and modems became invaluable. However that lay in the future. So, what did I do with my thousand- plus dollar investment? Well one of the very first programs I bought was STARFLIGHT, a game.starflight_cover.jpg starflight_cover.jpg

I was a rookie. In Army speak I was a FNG, a cherry and this damn game almost took me over. For just a while it grabbed me worse than crack gets an addict and I didn’t know any better.

Over the years I have bought a number of different computer games. Actually I am not a ‘big’ gamer, and the game has to ‘grab me’ in order to keep my attention. Most of my computer time is involved with my writing, my research and surfing the web. My point is that today I don’t game a lot, but that might change if I were to ever find another game that grabbed me the way ‘StarFlight’ did back in 1987. Ever hear of it? No? Well okay then, here is the deal .....

Back in early ‘87’ there wasn’t a lot to keep us science fiction fans happy. I like to explore the concepts that good science fiction presents. But in ‘87’ the only thing Sci Fi happening was the occasional ‘Star Trek’ flick coming out. Even the next Star Trek series, The Next Generation, had not debuted yet.

I had gone over to the Radio Shack Computer Center and was wandering around their software section. I had become good buddies with the staff, and when I wandered into the store they usually cleared a path for me. They knew they had a sale. I was still learning computer-ese and carefully scanned the software on display. I was in the game section and noticed a pretty cool looking package. It said STARFLIGHT and it had an awesome looking ship on the cover. The package was dark, and behind the ship was a star field and several planets lurking in the background. One of the salesmen, a younger guy drifted over. “Hey, this looks kind of cool” I began. “Oh definitely” he said. “I have it at home and it’s a keeper.” “Alright, so what is the deal?” I was thinking of Kirk and Spock.

“Well, this is a mystery” he began. “It starts out at a starport where you are assigned your ship.” Oh this was almost too much! My very own Enterprise with phasers, photon torpedoes and other goodies! Well not quite... Whoever designed this game had studied (Very Carefully) all the important tenets of capitalism and entrepreneurship and wanted to make sure that only with hard work AND a level of failure built in, would one finally get that bad ass starship. You start with a ship that barely gets out of space dock, and had they had a kid with a slingshot, he could have knocked you out of the sky.

The idea is to go boldly where only a few (that each paid their $50) have gone before and earn lots of MU’s (that’s STARFLIGHT lingo for bucks or the long green stuff ... Monetary Units) and then you can outfit your ship with all the neat stuff. Stuff like armor for the ship, lasers NOT phasers, screens (if this were Trek that would be shields) and engines that didn’t come out of a ‘64 Corvair. Unfortunately the first one in my ship probably did. You see, everything came in classes, class 1 engine up to a class 5. Same with the ships screens, lasers, etc. Oh yes, one more thing. The crew (which you can pick from the recruitment center, and they are not necessarily all human) have to be trained. All this of course takes money and they don’t give you much. I guess they wanted to see just what we starship captains were really made of.

I plopped down my $50 and took it home.

The game came on two 360 K disks. They squeezed a lot on a 360 K disk back then. First order of business, make two working copies of the disks, which I did. I knew this would work on my system, it said right on the cover. I had no hard drive, so during game play you are called upon to swap disks at times. Luckily it never happened when something really good was going on.

I called my best buddy Chuck to inform him of this new development. He promised to come over.

So, here I am up to my ears in the instructions. I want to make sure I experience every second of what this thing has to offer. And there was a lot of stuff in there. A star chart, a security access code wheel (now this was interesting, what in hell do you need something like that for?) the manual, and a quick start sheet plus the two disks. First order of business is to make the working copies. For you more recent computer users, there was a time when one had to do all this prior to using a program. You had the master disks then the worker disks. Sounds kind of like a commercial for communism doesn’t it?

Anyway I got that done. I secured my master disks in a safe place just like the manual said. Now I am ready to explore the universe. Well almost.... I fired the game up and first had to tell it all about my computer. Yes I have a CGA monitor, yes I will be switching floppies, yes it is a Tandy 1000 computer. Okay, I think it is ready.

cont. next ..


Staff member
Bingo, I am on a space platform that vaguely resembled something I remembered being on my school lunch box when I was a kid. Suddenly my character beamed in! on the platform. With a kind of buzzing noise. From the computer’s very anemic sound thingy. This is well before sound cards were available. Okay, NOW I was hooked. I looked around at the platform and there were a number of different modules to go to conduct my business. Operations, personnel, crew assignments, a trade depot, ships configuration, and the ALL Important Bank. Now in this universe things were run by an outfit called Interstel. Kind of a cross between the Rockefeller’s with a touch of Bill Gates thrown in for good measure, and oh say, Blackbeard the Pirate. It seemed like Capitalism that has run amok with more than a hint of piracy. Ok, I can live with this.

The manual recommended I first go to the Op’s Center to be briefed. I wandered in and figured out how it worked and read the briefing. There were a series of personal messages along with some stuff I could use. The company, Interstel, discussed reports from ships that made it back talking about certain areas of space. Areas where ships had disappeared, places with planets that might be suitable for colonization and so on. Later when I really went where no man has gone before, I found this universe HUGE! Much bigger than two 360 K floppy disks would lead you to believe.

The ships propulsion system and the ships power all came from some stuff they called endurium. Kind of a cross between premium octane gasoline and plutonium. The most rare, expensive and powerful substance this universe had to offer!

My buddy Chuck popped through the door.

I brief him on what I got sitting on my computer desk. His eyes light up. I showed him what the starport looked like and now he is suddenly as hooked on this as I am. Oh boy is his wife Charlotte gonna be pissed.....

Anyway what you need here is money ..... lots of it. Now there are a number of ways to make money. It seems like this place will pay good MU’s for minerals. Of course in order to do that you need to get out on the frontier with your ship and crew. My problem was I didn’t have a crew yet. Chuck and I wandered over to Personnel.

You need a Captain, that’s me. Well really I owned the game and computer so I selected a human guy, named him after me and we are set. I will be making all the final decisions. We need a Science Officer, (they scan planets, other ships and stuff and can tell you if anything looks good on a planet. Oh yes, they can also recommend a planet for a possible colony if it is suitable. But do not screw this one up, Interstel will fine you big- big MU’s.) We need a good Navigator to pilot the ship. He is the guy that will make sure you don’t get lost in space. And there seems to be a lot of it ..... space that is. One other thing he does, in the event of combat he handles all the weapons. We need an Engineer. He will maintain all the systems and make sure they are running at optimum, plus if anything gets damaged he will (hopefully) fix it. Then we need a Comm Officer. He will talk to the different races we may encounter. We last, but certainly not least, need a Doctor to maintain the crew. (Pretty sophisticated for 1987 isn’t it?) So this is what we need. The problem is that we don’t have nearly enough money to trick out these guys.

Oh, one other thing I should mention about the ships crew. We have close to a half dozen different races to choose the crew from. Each one had their pluses and minuses. Humans, the Veloxi (a bug race, good engineers) the Thrynn (reptilians and very good at communications) the Elowan (a race of bipedal photosynthetics or in plain English, plants) and Androids. There were other races to be sure, but these stick in my mind. Another thing .. in deep space not all these races get along with each other. If you do have two different races on board that don’t get along Out There, even though they get along on board, you may run into problems if you encounter one of these races. Trouble like a Class 5 laser blast into your crew compartment when they encounter you. Just one more thing to keep in mind.

Now Chuck and I had been working on this for a few hours when the phone rings. Oh yea, it’s his wife. I put him on, he mumbled for minute and hung up. “Uh, I got to go” he informed me. He left out the front door and I figured I wouldn’t be seeing him again for a couple of days. Two hours later he showed back up with a box of the very finest grape adult beverage, and we proceeded.

cont. next ..


Staff member
In the solar system, not too far from the starport, was a planet that had been listed as being mineral rich. Like I may or may not have said, one way to earn MU’s was mining. Get out there after getting a crew, training them as much as you could and launching your ship with your 1964 Corvair engine. Get to this planet, land and deploy your rover to explore and mine. Now here is where the navigator comes in handy. Get too far from the ship and if your guy isn’t trained, well Pal, you can get lost. Run out of fuel and you end up walking back. The problem is now you don’t have that rover and you will have got to buy another one. Kind of like working for the company store back in the coal fields of West Virginia.

But if you do land okay, and the planets gravity doesn’t crush you, or you are not killed by planetary wide storms (and this happened to me.) and you mine a bunch of minerals to sell, this is just the beginning.

Back to the starport to sell this stuff and gas up again. Go to the bank and see how much is in the old account. Can I train my guys, buy a new class of engine, upgrade the screens, put on a laser that will do more than warm a TV dinner? I tell you the life of an Interstel Starship Captain is not an easy one.

By now it is about 4:00 AM on Saturday morning. Chuck and I emptied the box of wine some time before and I had put on the coffee. We discovered what the mystery was. We didn’t know what caused it but we knew what it was. It seemed that this entire section of space had become unstable. Stars were going nova. In other words they were blowing up! And no, I do not recommend you or your ship be in the solar system when it happened.

Besides mining we discovered another way of making a lot of MU’s. This, by the way, only worked if you had good ship screens and powerful lasers. If one had an unpleasant encounter with an alien race that resulted in a weapons discharge, and of course providing that you smoked them, you could salvage their fuel and materials. Instant spending cash. Now we could really train our guys and upgrade everything! (And some of these arrogant alien scum had it coming. We had been taking it in the ear from some of these green scum for too long now. Groveling every time we ran into some of these guys. Just because they had more powerful ships and weapons. Things were changing!)

I looked at my watch. It was close to noon. Chuck and I had been on my computer since the afternoon before. A box of wine, 3 pots of coffee, no sleep, hot smoking lasers, Baby! we was wired.

The phone rang again. Guess who? Now I have not said much about my pal yet. Chuck and I were tight. We had worked together, both shared the Army and Viet Nam in our background. He, by the way, was a total straight shooter. He was a black and white kind of guy. No grey in his background. He always deferred to his wife...except this time. If he made up his mind about something, nothing, and I mean nothing would change it. He took the phone, said “Yeah?” listened for a minute and hung up. We headed back to space.

Now during our voyages we occasionally found artifacts. Little gadgets, little widgets that we didn’t have a clue about until we could get back to Starport and have it analyzed. So, somewhere along the trail we ran into a race of aliens called the Spemin. These guys were mouthy and obnoxious, but put a laser beam into their crew compartment and they would tell you everything they knew. We got some good information from them and then salvaged their stuff after we smoked them. Now it is about 5:30 PM on Saturday. We might have broke for lunch, went out and got a burger but I don’t really remember much. When we got back we knew what part of the galaxy we were heading to next. Upspin and outward.

We had heard about a mysterious artifact called The Black Egg and knew that in order to solve this entire puzzle, the Egg fitted into it somehow. We had also heard rumblings about another race that were called the Uhlek, some very-very bad dudes. No one really wanted to discuss these characters, other races were terrified of them. And ... there was one place we were warned to avoid at all costs, the Uhlek Brain World. Now that sounded ominous enough that Chuck and I could not wait to find this place. After all, we had Class 5 engines, enough to outrun anything in space. We had Class 5 screens, Class 5 lasers and missiles, the works. My crew had as much training as could be purchased by anyone. We thought we were ready.

The testosterone was flowing, Chuck and I were now on our fifth or sixth pot of coffee, bathroom breaks were becoming more frequent, my vision was blurry and in the back of my head were the earliest stages of a monumental caffeine meltdown. I looked over at Chuck and saw his eyes. His irises looked like two piss-holes in the snow. By then I felt as bad as he looked. But there was something in the air and we both felt it. We had been taking turns piloting the ship, and I happen to be at the helm at this point. I pointed the ship upspin and outward and we took off.

We had gotten some information about a planet that had the ruins of a City of the Ancients. They said a great treasure might be found there. All somewhat ambiguous, to be sure, but what the hell? We located a star system and entered it. I (as Captain) ordered a scan of the solar system and it was either the second or third planet from the star that we found the ancient city. We landed and began to explore. Whoa! There was so much endurium that our eyes bulged! (The rarest substance in this universe!) We filled our hold and went out for more. We also found something that the ships computer identified as the Crystal Pearl. Now this was good because we had heard about this thing from contact with several other races. They promised HUGE MU’s if we found this and were willing to sell it. We also got a hint about where the Uhlek Brain World was.

My head was now in full caffeine meltdown. I noticed a definite palsy in my fingers as I attempted to work the controls on the keyboard. Chuck, sitting next to me, would occasionally twitch and jerk a little bit and I instinctively knew the caffeine was in control. The Uhlek’s were supposedly downspin and outward of our then position. We launched.

Now remember ... back in 1987 no one had ever heard of the Borg before. Matter of fact there were no Borg back then, but later I was to figure out the Uhlek’s must have been the original template for the Borg on Star Trek. They were a hive type race and were all run from the Uhlek Brain World. The main brain called all the shots and they had a very bad attitude toward everything. Think of it like this, they were the Terminator and everything and everybody else was Sarah Connor.

cont. next ..


Staff member
We got downspin and I was checking the starchart. I was looking for a likely system to enter when our proximity alarm went off. I had raised ships screens and we started scanning. Suddenly we dropped out of hyper-drive (when you encountered a ship in deep space this was automatic) and there was just one ship out there. I ordered the science station to scan the ship and the Comm Officer to hail it. Before either order was carried out......BOOM! This guy nailed us good with a weapon we had NEVER encountered before! We had found the Uhlek! His weapon cut through our screens like they weren’t even up. I think I screamed RED ALERT! (and I mean I REALLY DID SCREAM) when he hit us again. My engineer’s console lit up like a Christmas Tree ... and when I looked down, the engines were knocked off line, there were hull breaches, weapons were down, we were dead in space! There was a slight pause ... then he fired at us one last time. The whole thing BLEW with a very sickening yellow screen blank. The monitor went yellow, then black! One other thing. Remember that I was a newbie computer user. That means that we had not been (as the manual suggested) saving the game periodically. We really were dead in space.

Chuck looked at me and stood up. “Uh, I’m gonna go home” he dead panned. He grabbed his cigarettes and headed out the door. I sat there a moment still rather stunned. My head was pounding with massive caffeine abuse while I removed my working disks from the drive. I powered down the computer and decided bed wasn’t a bad idea. “Uhlek bastards” I mumbled as I took four aspirin. What is really funny in hindsight is that I felt about the Uhlek then the way I felt about Al Qaeda on September 11th. “I will be back!” I vowed as I stumbled into bed. Before I totally collapsed I was thinking “If we had only been faster on the scans and lasers...” but the headache had taken over. I lay there exhausted and finally drifted off.

Later I realized that for two days in 1987, while “enjoying” the cheap wine, massive overdoses of caffeine, no sleep and little food, the Interstel Company and its universe with assorted aliens, widgets and MU’s became as real to me as Bill Gates, Microsoft and Windows XP are real to you. I experienced computer psychosis at its finest.

Over the next several months Chuck and I worked on the game weekly before we finally figured it all out. (I also bought a hint book to the tune of about $20, which was the turning point, that and saving the sessions!) But after that weekend Chuck’s wife was never very nice to me again. I saw it in her eyes when she glared at me. I did say that the life of an Interstel Starship Captain had its drawbacks.

Decker ( and I FINALLY did recover .. LOL)


FeralNormal master
Well that was inspired, I think somebody's giving those Rockoids a run for their money. Now I'm feeling insipid, maybe I'll go find a rock to crawl under.