OCTOBER 2014, E.V.


It saddens me to report on the untimely passing of one of the band's decoy-doubles, who was recently killed while employed as a steeplejack in Lawrence, Kansas. ****** had worked part time as one of Tool's "Doppelgangers" (as the decoys humorously referred to themselves) for over ten years before the tragedy involving a bolt of lightning caused him to fall to his death while polishing a church steeple. He is survived by no one (that I can mention for security reasons), and will be buried with honors for duty served at an undisclosed cemetery in Stull, Kansas. Those wishing to send their condolences can do so via the messageboards on the ToolArmy website.

In keeping with the old saying, "The show must go on", after receiving and reviewing numerous job applications, a new Tool decoy-double was hired, and quickly introduced to his fellow three "Doppelgangers" somewhere in Hollywood last week. Having measured up to the required standards (and swearing several blood oaths - meaning, among other things, that if he was required to drink orange Gatorade, he would do so, even if he was craving a different flavor!), I'm told that the newest decoy-double (whose job it is to keep overly zealous Tool fans from bothering the real band members whilst on tour) is ready to SPRING into action at a moment's notice. In the meantime - like the other decoys, the newest member will continue to work at his regular job - this being as an electrical power line installer in rural Oklahoma.


It began harmlessly enough. As a token of their appreciation for his services in identifying potential insect threats while touring in foreign lands (as well as Oregon), the members of Tool recently presented the world-renown entomologist, Rance Q. Spartley, with a tour drumhead signed by all four band members (While doing so, try to imagine a barely audible dark-sounding minor chord). This the bug man graciously accepted, afterwards offering each of the guys a bar of color-coded (white and brown) Face/Butt soap that he purchased from Amazon. (Surely you don't wash your face and butt using the same bar!)

Days later, after the maverick entomologist had framed and hung the drumhead on the wall in his modest home on the east coast, it wasn't long before strange things began to happen. At first these were minor things - albeit puzzling - such as jars of green olives in his kitchen pantry becoming cans of black olives, and a pizza delivery with mushroom toppings where Spartley had most certainly ordered his usual Italian sausage only.

The first sign of something really not being right occurred one Sunday morning when he awoke early and walked into the kitchen to make breakfast of fried Taylor's ham, coffee and maple-frosted doughnuts. While slicing the Taylor pork roll, to his great astonishment, he noticed that all of his refrigerator magnets had been re-arranged! (At the sight of this, imagine a spooky, rapid-fire Ligeti piano fortissimo). Now, here we're talking about many dozens of refrigerator magnets collected from Spartley's world travels in search of undiscovered insect species. What in the hell was going on, he wondered, almost too frightened to approach the colorful mass of confusion that his gaze was transfixed on. Thoughts raced through his brain. Had been sleepwalking? Was he a refrigerator magnet re-arranging somnambulist? A late night supermarket exchanger of green for black olives? Those which he absolutely loathed. But what about the wrong pizza toppings?.. Come to think of it, the package of canned unicorn meat that he ordered for holiday gag gifts from Amazon had never arrived, and he had placed the order three days ago... And then there was the bad luck of having his favorite television reality show abruptly canceled. This was "All My Babies' Mamas" - the ups and downs of a famous rapper who is the father of 11 children by 10 different mothers.

After painstakingly returning all of the magnets to their rightful places on the refrigerator, the next day passed without anything out of the ordinary. However, the following day something occurred that really messed with his mind. For some reason that Spartley couldn't quite fathom, he had 'accidentally' eaten the sugar bunny Peep that, unlike any others that he'd ever seen - and he'd seen plenty - bore the uncanny likeness of the face of Jesus; being very similar to the Sunday school popular image of the 'Savior' that all too often appeared on tortillas and fish sticks and even in the burnt on grease of frying pans. Because it was a genuine Peep (manufactured by "Just Born, Inc in Bethlehem, PA.), it was going to be part of the entomologist's retirement fund - a freakish religious apparition that would surely command thousands of dollars when auctioned on eBay.

But even worse than biting off the head of his curious Jesus-Peep, moments later he had a severe allergic reaction to it. Along with an ugly rash on most of his body, he was experiencing shortness of breath. In a frantic phone call to me, I suggested that he might be having a bad reaction to one of the ingredients in Peeps - this being carnauba wax, the main ingredient in car wax. As I was telling him this, I heard his phone suddenly drop, followed by him yelling about something. (Imagine an organ crescendo with dissonance, followed by a rapid-fire series of diatonic scales.) As I found out moments later, while talking to me he happened to glance out of the kitchen window only to see that his car was missing from the driveway. This was not just any car - it was Spartley's 1964 Oldsmobile JetFire, which he was in the process of waxing when evidently someone had stolen it.

Spartley needed to calm down. There had to be a rational explanation for this sudden string of bad luck. He was a scientist, after all! A world-renowned bug expert who had figured out that parasitism was the answer to last years frightening Dream-Leaper spider phenomenon. Plus, he wasn't seeing wispy apparitions of malevolent entities. His house wasn't permeated by the sulfurous odor of brimstone. Nor was he experiencing terrible nightmares. Too bad he sought comfort in the "Giant Boo Popcorn Tin" that he had bought for Halloween. This was supposed to be filled to the brim with Jack-O-Lantern popcorn balls, pixies, black cat gummi, and mellocreme pumpkins. However, rather than the promised assortment, the damn thing came filled with only the mellocreme goodies. Even the bonus plush ghost had escaped its captivity inside the decorative container. First Spartley ate one mellocreme pumpkin, Then another. Then several more, for he had dozens of them.

Within minutes he realized that it was probably marshmallow that he was now allergic to, and not carnauba wax. And you guessed right. The resulting painful red splotches on his face bore an uncanny likeness to the face of Jesus. Just like the ones seen on grilled cheese sandwiches, dog butt-holes, and rusted Black & Decker irons.

While recovering at his home, the next day I received another call from Spartley. This time he sounded even more frazzled than he was when his JetFire was stolen. Minutes ago he had noticed that his prized collection of Lord Howe Island stick-insects were missing. Also known as "tree-lobsters", these are considered to be the rarest insects in the world, virtually extinct by 1930, and his private collection, containing 24 in all, included an ultra-rare male specimen with polka dots. "Could the odd fuckers have somehow come back to life?" his fevered mind imagined. "And are now planning an all out assault!" This most recent incident might have well been the chrysanthemum on Spartley's tomb. Distraught as he was, he blamed all of his recent problems on the signed Tool drumhead, uttering repeatedly that it was the only thing different in his world.

I thought about this for a while - wondering if perhaps the negative vibes were the result of an errant sigil - one that had been constructed without linear exactitude? But Spartley thought otherwise, believing that something had been disturbed from its frozen slumber - a video prop creature perhaps - while removing the drumhead from the 'museum's' dusty, cobweb-festooned upper floor. Although I didn't think this made any sense, I nevertheless told him that if that really was the case, I suggested that he use jinx-removing incense, or a (placebo-like) banishing formula that I would provide him with.

Spartley wasn't having any of this. All he wanted to do is return the "cursed drumhead." Then he would check Craigslist for anyone selling a 1964 Oldsmobile JetFire. And finally, he would take a trip to Australia, where the Lord Howe Island stick-insects were back in business due to something known as "The Lazarus Effect." As for Tool, Spartley said that they should just focus on recording a new album, and not worry about any hazardous creatures while touring - except, of course, for certain types of arachnids such as the Australian "Dream-Leaper", and disease carrying mosquitoes. Also, bullet ants, tse tse flies, deer ticks, puss caterpillars, parasitic worms, assassin bugs and your garden-variety black spitting thick tail scorpion. When we hung up, I wondered if I'd ever see the bug man again?

Once again, although I don't believe Spartley's recent misfortunes were in any way connected with a "cursed drumhead", for those who choose to think such things are possible - because it is Halloween - the first lucky person to read this has a chance to order from the on-line store the "cursed Tool drumhead" (SIGNED by all four band members) for the insane price of just 99 cents! Honestly, that's right, 99 cents! However, if you want one that isn't cursed, another (signed by all four band members) drumhead will be available for a much higher price. (Pipe organ crescendo.)



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