A Note From Paul

(with a strange email message)

Sandwiched between Edinburgh and On the Boat

This message recently arrived at the corkscrew-balloon web site. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but I haven't heard anything from Alf for a while, and I thought that I would have gotten a cell phone call from him by now. Anyway, I figured I might as well put this up here, just in case it's actually legitimate. I'm a little skeptical ... but I wish I was more sure.

Date: Wed, 30 Aug 2000 11:44:29
From: Jennifer MacGregor
To: comments@corkscrew-balloon.com
Re: Alf and Annie

Hi. I'm writing this to you because I thought you might want to know what's happening to Alf and Annie.

I was just voted off the Lochmaddy Blight at yesterday's inquisition. While on the boat, Alf told me about this web site that he said he has, with all sorts of travels and stuff like that. Frankly, we didn't believe much of what he said. All of us on the Blight made up some little stories about ourselves at the beginning, "back stories" sort of. It seemed to be a kind of a part of the whole show, we thought they were implicitly encouraging us to make up some stuff. But Alf somehow really sounded sincere, like he was telling the real story, more than most of the others anyway, and after I got home and a bit rehydrated, I got to thinking about it and I decided to actually look at the web address that he mentioned. Now I'm wondering if maybe all of the things he said might have been true, and if he and Annie really DIDN'T know what they were getting in for when they got on the boat.

I know that you probably don't know too much about the Blight, because "Driftaways" isn't even actually going to be on TV until the November sweeps, and I'm sure you don't know any of the details of what actually has been happening. I'm not really supposed to be telling you, either, I suppose. But I'm pissed at them for how this turned out for me, so I really don't care anymore.

The weird thing is, Alf and Annie both seemed genuinely surprised when they were brought aboard the Lochmaddy Blight, the old potato barge that they're using for the Driftaways program. They said they were expecting a really nice "floating hotel" kind of thing. The "Hebreddy Princess," I think that's what they said. It was like they were expecting Julie, their cruise director, to rustle up some shuffleboard tournament or some crap like that.

Well, the rest of us all thought this was pretty plainly bogus, since we had all gone through the whole screening process in order to be selected for Driftaways, and we all knew that we had all done that to get here, and these two were pretending that they just stumbled onto the set. Right. But it was bizarre, really. Ther rest of us were all jazzed about it, especially since these reality shows have now started catching on even in the states, and it seemed weird that Alf and Annie were so laid-back about all of that but then they kept talking on and on and on about how great Scotland looked for bicycling. We all kind of looked at each other, you know, like, what's THAT all about? and some of us wondered if they were some kind of goofball ringers the producers put in just to mix things up a little. Of course, that was before we realized that the producers' plans were a little more sick than that. I don't even want to go there right now, though. Talk to me later if ever.

Anyway, I don't have time to tell you more now, I still get kind of worn out after typing (or doing anything, really) for more than a few minutes. Alf and Annie should be voted off pretty soon, anyway. There were only six people left when the inquisition sent me to the plank, so they can't have too many days left. Of course, Alf did get a lot of lime credits when he did so well in the keel-hauling, so if he's smart about how he redeems those, he might be able to stick around for a few more days before they make him do the plank. Whoopee, more jellyfish for breakfast. At this point, I don't even know which is worse, staying or planking. Plank me baby, glub! And somehow, it seemed like Alf and Annie always got the worst of it. I think they were the only ones who had to eat their rats "tartare" or go hungry. And then there was that whole Renfield bug thing .... Oh, Mina!

As I think about it now, though, the weirdest thing about it all, at least regarding Alf specifically, was after I left the Blight and talked with Sally, one of the main producers. She told me this weird story about how her name wasn't really Sally but it was Norma Milkbone or something, and how Alf was really going to learn from this, and that was the whole reason she had set up the Driftaways program. I know she meant, just the winner generally was going to grow from the experience, but she put it so much in terms of Alf, and I hadn't been talking about him specifically or anything. She said she didn't care about the ratings or the sponsors, but nobody pushes HER in a tarpit and hops on the bus and leaves her behind. Well, I don't know what THAT was all about, but she seemed so serious and focused that I almost thought she was going to have a litter of kittens at that point. If she wasn't so plainly just off in some imaginary world, I would have asked her more about what she meant. But after the plank, hello!!??, I wasn't really into talking with her much anyway, really. It's still bugging me, though, because I was already off the show at that point, so why was she still going through this crazy stuff with me? Twisted victimizing mindgamers.

OK, I really can't say any more now my brain is fried. Maybe you've already heard from Alf anyway. But Sally did predict that he was going to be the last one left on board, and she seemed so sure (and really happy) about that. It'll be cool to find out what the prize is for the last person. She wouldn't even tell us, except that it was going to be really cool, but when she thought about Alf getting it, she looked SO happy, with kind of a fire in her eyes look!

L8r, Jenn

Another message arrived on August 31:

Date: Thu, 31 Aug 2000 18:14:33
From: Bruce ******* <*******@bellsouth.net>
To: comments@corkscrew-balloon.com
Subject: discontinue


I have no idea whether these are related. I don't think they are, but it's all a little weird. Anyway, Alf is supposed to be arriving back in Bangkok within the next day or two, and Annie should be getting back to Seattle. I'll keep you posted on anything that I hear.

Later ...

Well, it would appear that the suspicious email message was fact-challenged. We have turned over all relevant information to the proper authorities, and we will be cooperating with their investigation and prosecution of the perpetrators.

The real story of Alf and Annie on the boat is now available.

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