Here you will find many of the insightful articles and books discussed at our weekly tea gatherings.


28 December 2004

The Tea Reader, now updated at least yearly! Here are some pictures from our last Tea.


2 September 2003

The Tea Writer is pleased to announce that, after several months spent in a tropical paradise (and several weeks spent in a Mexican jail), the Tea Reader is back from summer vacation.

Still suffering from a hangover, however, the Tea Reader was not not quite lucid last Tuesday, and found it taxing to even remember the faces of the Tea regulars who were in attendance. To help it back into the swing of things, it might be helpful to remind us who these amazing people are.

Kim

Kim works for the Internet. Her job is to make sure the Internet keeps happening. Every day that the Internet continues to happen, she is doing her job. Good work, Kim! You help make the Tea Reader possible. One shudders to recall those dark days of yester-year, when the Tea Reader, composed on a Smith-Corona manual typewriter, was mimeographed, folded, stapled, and mailed by third class post every week.

Chris-u-lonic

Chris works for a company, but he won't say which company, so we'll just call it the company. Chris is the one who always wears a hat to Tea. The odd thing about this hat, though, is that Chris doesn't wear it, and he doesn't bring it to Tea. He used to wear a hat, though. And we used to drink tea. So one can truthfully say that Chris is the personification of Tea. He is also a devout teetotaler.

Shannon

Shannon is the Young Turk of Tea, and a recent addition to the gang. Be wary of Shannon: she spreads disinformation, subversive stickers, and counterfeit money. Though new on the scene, she has inserted herself into the deepest levels of the Tea infrastructure. What are her plans? Wait and see.

Carla

For those who have read the novel or watched the movie, Carla is to Tea what the character Begbie is to Trainspotting. She'll glass yeh as soon as look at yeh. The founding member of Tea if anybody deserves the title, Carla now spends most of her days in other states as a hatchet woman for a major corporation.

Thomas

Thomas is Carla's husband. If Carla is absent, so is Thomas, and when she is present, Thomas is generally there as well. It is as if he is in her orbit, a satellite, if you will. No, I kid, I kid. He is a first class body in his own right, and the two comprise a binary star system. Technically minded, Thomas can solve any problem thrown his way using only everyday household items, and a satellite. Sometimes two satellites. For example, he has devised a clever way to prepare trout using a coffee can, sterno, cumin, onions, and a K-band satellite. He also has a satellite-based exit strategy for Iraq, but it's a secret.

Pete

Pete is the inventor of TML: Tea Markup Language. It is an application of XML, and Pete can provide the DTD if you need it. Here is an example:
<?xml version="1.0"?>
<tea>

<attendance>
<member type="awesome">David</member>
<group>The rest</group>
</attendance>

</tea>
Pete is not, in fact, a Tea regular. But he does leave in Wisconsin, so give the guy some credit.

Sacha

With the possible exception of David, Sacha is the coolest member of Tea. To see him is to know that he is simply, unassailably, cool. One notes this without hostility, much as one beholds a giant redwood, and thinks, "It is taller than me, but I do not begrudge it that. For it has a large hole blasted through its trunk, with a road through it. I have no road blasted through me, and betwixt my kidneys no cars do drive. For that, I am greatful."

Maureen

Maureen talks a lot of smack, but has much sass and moxy. She does not generally get the credit she deserves, but this is her karmic reward for correcting people. All the time. Once a dear fellow offered a surprisingly entertaining Tea trivia question. I don't recall who delivered this delightful diversion, but it was last week, and he probably worked very hard to come up with "Name the five most recent members of the U.N." and research the answers as well. How did Maureen reward this selfless soul, whoever he may have been? Here is how: "It's pronounced Kiribash." Ooh, look at me, I know how to pronounce Kiribati. I read books. I went to school. Three cheers for Maureen, Pronouncer of Countries.

David

For those who have read the novel or watched the TV show, David is to Tea what the character Fonzie is to Happy Days. David keeps an office in the Franklins bathroom, where he holds council with his good friends the red headed one, the dark haired one, and the other red headed one. A carefully placed blow of David's first can fix machinery and extract free goods and services. With the snap of his fingers, David makes women hug him, though they don't know why. Sometimes, David helps his friends learn an important lesson about life, usually following a misundersanding, with amusing or hilarious consequences.

The Others

The others didn't come to Tea.

See you next week!




1 July 2003

[Editors Note: This week a guest Tea Writer fills in for David.]

I had stumbled wildly up the concrete path to that all too brightly colored building when the shadow of a dark haired man approached me. Knowing the spook type that frequented the area (and one outside who looked me in the eye), I lunged towards the door, blinded momentarily by the sign that read "Franklins" above me. Franklins? What type of upscale incongruity were they allowing into the neighborhood?

I braced myself against the podium. I was beginning to pant. That dark haired man had followed me inside. Before the hostess could ask me how many, I ran and hid at her ankles below the stand.

"Excuse me, but what-" I cut her off with an urgent gesture that conveyed my utter fear. She stared at me with the doe-eyed glaze of the morning talk show female and I heard a voice above me say that he was with the "tea party."

Tea Party. Contemptible spies. How dare they invoke a great moment in the history of this nation for their subversiveness. I nearly stood up to express my rage at the conformist war-mongerer, but thought against it and instead fumbled at the cap to my flask.

The hostess walked away, not without another glare to my offending self. I watched as she led the dark haired man up the stairs, and noticed for the first time that he carried something awkwardly. What could those un-American rapscallions be planning for the night?

I peeked my head around the podium to see the hostess scramble down the stairs with a manager. I tried my best but the bright lights and pixilated paintings of American emblems seemed to suffocate me. I crawled and hid behind a crying six-year old where I stood up and glanced around for a weapon.

There being no katanas nor .45s in the vicinity, I reached into my hair and brought in front of me a shaking hand holding a sharpened chop stick. It'll have to do. Someone needs to stop this madness.

As calmly as a irate patriot could, I mounted the stairs and saw them. There were tables of them. Snippets of conversation floated toward me, "First postage stamp... co-worker coming to tea... beer..." when I saw him, the dark haired man. He was grinning foolishly as I stalked the table, my chopstick hair accessory raised above me for the kill. A primal cry bubbled at the back of my throat and slowly I lowered my arm using every muscle to control the movement. I was but a yard away, when he turned and looked at me, and glanced to the floor.

Then I saw it: the package he had carried upstairs. Not a package, but a yuppie car-seat, and in it, a baby. My resolve broke, and I dropped the chopstick, but then I thought of this saccharine child being raised by a liberty-consuming monster, and I snatched up the baby and ran down the other stairs in the back. "Don't worry child! We shall stoke the fires of revolution!" I bellowed. I heard a voice shout, "Be well!" as I ran outside and followed the train tracks to our freedom.

-Hiram Mustene


6 May to 2 June, 2003

In the days and weeks that followed, we learned what had become of Carla. While up late one night, studying, our dear friend dozed off and woke to find herself trapped under a C++ textbook. With Thomas away at an anti-Globalization conference, Carla subsisted for seventeen days and nights on nothing but cans of Ensure from a fortuitously proximate palette.

Carla's return came none too soon, as many of our dearest friends, taken for granted these many months, announced their impending departures, or, in some cases, left without any word at all.

On May 13, for example, we learned to our dismay that our ever diligent waitress Melissa would be leaving Franklins to make her mark on the world. Melissa: you will be missed. You have been, and will always be, our friend.

That same evening witnessed the first of many Yael-less Teas. Like the last rays of winter's setting sun, she left us with growing darkness and the bitter loneliness of the soul. Where did you go, Yael? Where? It is cold, so cold . . .

Fear not. I can happily report that on the second of June, 2003, the sun did arise and make happy the skies, as Yael returned to Tea, with excuses: some good, and some not. The good excuses were so good that the others will be forgiven. Let us never speak of it again.

Little did we know that the thirteenth would also be resident Cypriot Andri's final Tea until the Autumn. Absent the next two weeks, and now home in that Mediterranean pearl for the summer, we wish her well. Godspeed, Andri. Keep us in your heart.

Another sign of trouble to come arrived with little fanfare on the twentieth of May, when our waitress, Crystal, of Jackson Pollack joke fame, informed the gathered group that Franklin's had exhausted its supply of the IPA. "Not to worry," we thought. "Though people may desert us, alcohol is our ever present friend." And yet, within seven scant days, there would be but four beers offered at Prince Georges County's only brewpub. Woe unto us.

As if this dearth were not trial enough, it coincided with the first of two weeks without Brooke's chest! It, and its host, were on vacation in Canadia!

"Surely this is hyperbole!" some of you are thinking to yourselves. "He exaggerates for dramatic effect, as is his wont. No Yael, no Brooke, no Andri, and no Booze, all on the same night? It is too much to believe." Believe it.

But I suspect we have passed the nadir. Nay, I am sure of it. For next week saw an increase to six beers, and, as mentioned, to one Yael. Some speak of a "double dip" recession, but they are wrong. The outlook is good.

For the record, here is the official attendance record. Gold stars go to Carla, Chris, and David, for obvious reasons. To the rest: you have much to learn from your reliable companions.


5/6/03
5/13/03
5/20/03
5/27/03
6/2/03
Andrew
X
X

X
X
Andri
X
X



Brooke
X
X
X


Bruce



X

Carla
X
X
X
X
X
Chris
X
X
X
X
X
Cliff
X

X
X
X
David
X
X
X
X
X
Fred

X



Goat



X

Janette
X




Jason
X
X
X
X
X
Lisa




X
Maggie
X
X

X
X
Marvella
X




Maureen
X
X

X
X
Mikey
X




Robin

X
X
X

Sacha
X
X
X
X

Shannon

X


X
Susan



X

Thomas
X



X
Yael
X



X
Melissa*
X
X



Crystal*


X
X
X
* - our excellent waitresses


29 April 2003

This much we know: on the evening of April 29th, 2003, a group of friends gathered at Franklins Restaurant in Hyattsville, MD. They stayed for several hours drinking beer, wine, and carbonated beverages, eating appetizers and main courses, all the while discussing the issues of the day. The group numbered fourteen, and included the following individuals: Chris, Andri, David, Brooke, Yael, Cliff, Shannon, Andrew, Maureen, Maggie, Jason, Walter, Sacha, and Robin.

A recently discovered primary source, in the form of a black cardboard-bound notebook, has permitted us to reconstruct the events of that evening. Though no one can be sure of the exact details, the broad outlines of that night, as depicted below, are believed to be correct.

Chris, or "Chris-u-lonic" as he is known, arrived first and sat on the low brick wall in front of the restaurant. Having stared blankly into space for 15 minutes, he was interrupted by the arrival of Andri, and David, who is believed to be Andri's chauffeur. The three exchanged pleasantries, and then entered the establishment, where they were promptly shown to their table. The Franklins staff expected the group, who meet there on a regular basis.

While waiting to sit, David, ever observant, noticed Brooke walking through the parking lot. When, forty seconds later, his vision was obscured by a pair of hands, he calmly uttered the words, "Hello, Brooke. So glad you could join us." Brooke, impressed, gazed upon David in wide-eyed wonder, and then looked down.

Not long afterward, Yael, and then Cliff, arrived upon the scene. By all accounts, Yael appeared to be staggeringly drunk.

"A Deepness in the Sky," said Cliff.

Silence.

"A Deepness in the Sky," repeated Cliff.

"Ah," replied somebody, perhaps Chris.

"I am reading the novel A Deepness in the Sky by Hugo Award-winning author Vernor Vinge. If you take the initial letter of his first and last name, you will find that they are identical."

The puzzled looks of all assembled were interrupted by the arrival of the Farringtonia contingent, in the persons of Andrew, Maureen, Shannon, and Maggie. Andrew nearly tripped over Yael, who had fallen from her chair several minutes before.

Chris shared an interesting article he had read in the New York "Science" Times, involving dragons. There were dragons, or, perhaps, there were no dragons. Scientists aren't certain. Many cultures had dragon myths, though. "What's more," added Chris, "the Lambton Wyrm of 1420."

Yael explained the marvels of offset printing, between hiccups, and David pointed out the informative feature Stop the Presses: Behind the Brass Door at the New York Times website. [Editor's Note: neither NYT article referenced in this depiction was authored by Jayson Blair.] And, in a drunken tirade, Yael savaged the cover design of Brooke's copy of The Island of the Colorblind.

Jason, Walter, Sacha, and Robin arrived later to complete the group. After smiling and high-fiving all assembled, Jason asked, "Where are Carla and Tom?"

"Oh, Carla said she couldn't make it," replied Brooke.

Jason then became very still, while his face grew darker and darker shades of red.

"That BITCH! Who the hell does she think she is? Where does she get off skipping tea like that? And she didn't even tell me! After all I've done for her. God damn-it! God damn-it to hell!"

And then, slowly taking his seat, Jason broke down into tears and quietly sobbed for several minutes.

"Once, I didn't buy a car because the salesman put his hand on the small of my back!" Yael added helpfully.

"Oh really?" inquired Chris. "Manor House is more entertaining than I thought it would be."

Then Justin, the waiter, asked the group to please leave, and they did.

The whereabouts of Thomas and Carla remain unknown. Those with information are asked to contact the authorities.



Next Week: Will Carla and Thomas come to Tea?

[ 29 April 2003 ]

I am not the first, and certainly not the last, to ask the question: "How can Science help us to understand the absence of the April 29th edition of the Tea Reader ?" The answer, of course, is that it can not. Religion, Macrame, and Hollistic Medicine are similarly useless.

For real answers, we must turn to a man named Sacha, a movie titled Cowboy Bebop, and a morphine derivative known as heroin.

Mostly heroin.

Rest assured, though, that this week's edition of the Tea Reader will hit newsstands everywhere sometime this week.


8 April & 15 April, 2003

The U.S. Government is offering a reward for information leading to the arrest of the following fugitives. All were last seen gathering at Franklins Restaurant within the last two weeks.


   
  andrew  

 

ANDREW AL-TIKRITI
Special Security Organization
(SSO) Supervisor/Ho'ouse Party
Conspiracy Bureau Deputy Chairman



   
  andri  

 

ANDRI CHAPALAPPADOPOLOPOLIS
November 17 Regional
Chairwoman for Economic Affairs
Secretary, Directorate of Burp Elimination



   
  brian  

 

BRIAN AL-DER AL-NADANI
Skibble Party Regional Command
Chairman for Hyattsville District

WARNING: right cheek may suddenly
generate trans-dimensional gateway



   
  brooke  

 

BROOKE ABD AL-CHEST THRUSTEEKA
Shower Party Regional Command
Chairman for North Bumfukhdhad
Governorate



   
  carla  

 

CARLA IBRAHIM ENSURHA
Tea Party Founder

EXTREMELY DANGEROUS



   
  chris  

 

CHRIS MUHAMMAD AMIN
AL-U-LONIC
Iraqi Intelligence Services

NOTE: May be disguised in
traditional head dress



   
  cliff  

 


CLIFF FUTAYYIH KHALIFA
AL-RAWI
Dance Party Military Chief



   
  awesome  

 

DAVID HAMID TAWFIQ
AL-AWESOME
Director of Hey-good-looking
That's-right-baby-come-to-David-Hamid
Administration



   
  fred  

 

FRED JAMAL "MUSTAFA" ABDALLAH
SULTAN AL-TIKRITI
Deputy Head, Office of Rictus Affairs



   
  jason  

 

JASON NUSAYYIF JASIM
AL-MARIWAN AHH
Biological Weapons Program
Director



   
  joe  

 

JOEY JOE JOE
Ba'th Party Communications Director



   
  maggie  

 

MAGGIE AL-DIN CUTIEYAH
HASAN TAHA AL-AWWWW
Republican Guard Chief of
Who's a Cute Baby?
Oh yes you are! Oh yes you are!

WARNING: Considered Armed and Dangerous



   
  maureen  

 


MAUREEN MUSTAFA ABDALLAH
SULTAN AL-MOMO
Ministry of Propaganda Director
& Smart Ass Directorate Chief



   
   

 

RAH AH-BIN
AL-TIKRITI
Director, Ministry of Good Humor

Answers to RAH-BIN!



   
  sacha  

 

SACHA ABDALLAH AL-KLAYTOR
Mentat Assassin



   
   

 

THOMAS ABDUL-MAJID AL-EUGENE V. DEBS AL-TIKRITI
Director Ba'th Party Public Broadcasting
Next Generation Interconnection



   
  walter  

 


WAH AL-TIR
Tea Party Nipple Torture Chief
Chairman for Damascus
District



   
  yael  

 

YAEL KHADR AN AL-AHBSEHSI
KAHMPAHLSI
Regional Command Chairwoman
for Dinar Sorting and Orientation

BEWARE: Deadly Garroting Beads!




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