Last year's Jestersauri spent a great deal of time covering the year's prog festivals so we figured this year we wouldn't be so predictable as to do the same, but figuring that angle would be too predictable, we figured we'd be unpredictable and cover this year's prog fests anyway because we figured that's the kind of zany, unpredictable publication that Jestersaurus is. Problem is, JR forgot to cover Baja Prog, and he's already covering NEARfest for Expose. Boo-hoo for Baja, but to the rescue for NEARfest came our good friend Hammond Hill. Not one known for his reliability or sobriety, we managed to extract a sworn statement promising he would refrain from consuming illicit drugs during agreed upon hours of the weekend. He had an interesting idea for covering the fest: he would record his thoughts on tape throughout the weekend and adapt and transcribe them from there without much embellishment or afterthought. This way the reader can get a first hand glimpse of the fest as Hammond saw it. In fact, to fully enjoy the spirit of the concept, this link will be the first time we've read it ourselves!

Dudes! First stop: liquor store. They had cheap pints of Fleischmann's whiskey so I picked up a few. The small size is easy to 'stash-and-sneak' if you know what I mean. So I grab something to eat and then I go to the War Memorial to check out the battleground (LOL!). It wasn't long before I'm looking for the can 'cause whiskey and Guatemalan food comes out about as easy as it goes in if ya know what I mean. So I'm off in some basement somewheres looking for a place where I can have a little privacy and suddenly I can't wait no more so I open the door to a maintenance closet and I explode in the sink! What a freakin mess! I wash up real quick-like and leave my messy underwear there, and all I know is I don't want to get caught, so what happens? As I'm gettin ready to split I hear some maintenance dude lock the door with a key from the outside! "Yo, Dickweed!" I yell, "open the door!" I thought I heard him say "huh?" so I pounded the door and says "open the freakin' door ya low-life butt-scratching numbnut!" Dude musta been deafer then shit cause he just mumbled some shit an left! I'm freakin outta my skull man! I yelled, screamed, and pounded the door, but the place was as solid as a silicone tit and no one was hearin me. No doubt the maintenance dude left for the night and I was stuck till morning!

Within 5 minutes I'm bored shitless. I know this probably wasn't a good idea, but I figured since Friday night wasn't part of the 'Just Say No' hour, I dropped some acid. Now I'm not one for closed areas when I'm trippin an let me tell ya: a maintenance closet is a mighty freakin closed area! Jumpin Jesus and a banana peel, ya may as well of put me in a straight jacket and parked me on an alter in front of some snake-wielding, talking in tongues, hillbilly praise-the-Lord Jesus freaks tellin me I'm gonna rot in Satan's eternal pits of hellfire damnation with red-hot irons up my ass cause I starts to repenting every sin known to man. Thank God I don't remember what all went down that night cause I woke up in the morning next to a bucket with a babe's face drawn on it and a mop draped over the top for hair. My pants were undone, the sink was smashed, my shoes were hanging from the light bulb, and I had my stink-ass underwear on my head. I didn't know if I wanted someone to open the door or not.

I knocked on the door and started yelling for help but nothing happened. Freakin-A man, they probly don't work weekends! I started throwing myself at the door, gentle-like at first and I gradually started slamming myself against it with all my might. My shoulder and hip were bruised and I got a black eye from banging my cheek on the door. Then I realized that since the door opened toward the inside, I was tryin to bust the entire doorframe off the wall. I took the mop and started pounding the ceiling with the handle, figuring if someone was upstairs they'd hear me. Nothing. Then I heard a deep, loud rumbling: NEARfest 2002 had begun!

I took a celebratory pull off the ol' Fleischy's and tried to remember who was on first. Sounded like a distant train coming down the tracks, it was all rumbly and bassy. I been to NEARfests before and I don't remember the sound ever bein this bad. It was kinda like if you took a shitload of codeine an set off an M80 near your head, then you tried to listen to some music. I was hopin they'd fix it so I could figure out who it was who was playin but they never did. Probly some Italian shit. I didn't really care at that point cause I was gettin hungry as a lame, diabetic lion watching a bunch of glistening wildebeests cavorting in a stream of post-drought rain, their succulent shanks jiggling seductively as they bump rumps together, splashing in the stream's glimmering, diamond-like peaks, shining brightly in the midday sun. All I had was some gum and some leftover tostada crap that I put in my pocket last night at the home of Guatalahara's Revenge. I wiped the lint off it and chowed down.

Let me tell ya something just between you and me: I don't think they had their shit together between sets this year. My watch battery died so I can't say for sure, but it just kind of seemed like a damn long time waiting for each band to start. Granted, sitting alone in a maintenance closet ain't makin no time fly but I'd be willing to stake my reputation on some serious delays.

Irregardlessly, the whiskey was tasting damn good to me. I was dancing to what may have been Miriodor (or Nektar). I was a maniac, dipping the mop and bucket and doin the ol' dirty ballroom dancing when my foot got wedged in a mop wringer. I fell backwards, taking a shelf-load of cleaning supplies down with me. Now in the realm of drinking, if there's one thing I pride myself on besides my ability to hold a staggering amount of liquor, it's my marathoner's-like ability to pace myself, and that day was no exception. I drank my whiskey at a very stable pace. A sprinter's pace in fact, cause when I came to, my bottles were empty. I could feel some deep thumping bass and a kick-drum massaging my delicate stomach like an NFL linebacker might knead a ball of puff pastry. I lay on my back and gushed like a geyser, letting loose all over the floor and spilling out under the door into the hallway. All I can say is I'm glad I ain't no War Memorial janitor cause it's gonna take a battalion of 'em to clean this shit up!

Day 2 went by real fast. I might of missed a band or 3 or 4. I have to say that ultimately I was disappointed with the selection of bands, at least as I heard them from the closet. It was all so very samey, it'd be a waste of time to go into each band one by one. I must of hit my head pretty hard cause I kept falling in and out of sleep until Monday morning when all of a sudden the door opens. There's this dude just kind of standing there looking all dumb an shit. I felt real bad cause I started to thinking that maybe this dude was one of them 'hire the handicapped' kind of mentally-challenged dudes cause he's just standin there with his jaw hangin open like he's about to swallow his tongue or something, so I spotted him five bucks an split.

I must say the weekend didn't turn out half bad. I've certainly had worse. I wound up saving a lot of cash on my hotel and food bills and JR picked up the tab for my ticket. Thanks must go to the NEARfest organizers for what I guess was a great fest. I'd also like to extend a warm debt of gratitude to the good folks at Jestersaurus for giving me this opportunity to be their festival reporter. I hope to take my newfound credentials and write for some big-time ragazine. I'll keep you posted.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Section 1: Surviving ~~~~~~~~~~~~

Among the bands featured this month are some who have a good chance of playing at next year's NEARfest. To make things interesting, we thought a reality game would be an exciting way to decide who plays. Welcome to the first episode of Surviving! The games of the competition shall be determined by consensus, and have yet to be decided.

<>Morning mists and a cloak of mystery shroud a hidden fjord high in the cold, northern latitudes of Uunartoq Norway. Breaking the eerie silence are the sounds of waves lapping against the shore and a chill morning wind, the hurried sailor's friend. The intrusion of man is heard in the creak of wood and rope as last of the sailors' chests are placed on board the mighty longship. One final cry of "I have to go to the bathroom" later and they're almost ready for departure.

Borknagar has taken matters into their own Nordic hands and started the competition without waiting for rules of engagement. The wooden ship scraping on fine gravel signals the start of the voyage while the head of a dragon pierces the fog, leading the sailors into the mysterious void ahead. Armed with battle-axes and single-edge swords, their plan is to engage in a real-life Viking conquest of ruthless ferocity , unseen since the days of the flat earth, ordeal by fire, and baked beans and Spam. No doubt their method of attack will be the deadly Viking Bork Nagar formation (correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure 'Borknagar' is Norwegian for 'boar snout'). Their ship will sail the course of Leif Erikson to Greenland and on to Newfoundland, traveling during the Viking-favored solstice using a Sun Compass to navigate their way across the great oceanic expanse. From Newfoundland they'll follow the coast by New England and New York to New Jersey, where they'll disembark and rent a car to Trenton.

<>The next band in consideration will be occupying the flying superfortress, Castle Dreadnaught. The fearsome castle is harmless while unoccupied and left alone, but Dreadnaught intends to lay siege to the mythical edifice and embark on a quest of unrequitable bloodlust. Last we've heard, the band has been trying vainly to vanquish the deadly red dragons that guard the castle.


<>Despite numerous remonstrations that there will *NOT* be a back-to-back NEARfest repeat, Echolyn will attempt to echo their performance at NF2002 with another show next year anyway. Their chosen weapon for the competition is a generously proportioned seductress who'll be flogging her wares for Rob and Chad. She was last seen wiggling her way through the halls of Kings College in Pennsylvania, swaying her butt like she was using it to mix a cocktail.

<>Maudlin Of The Well<>
<>A highly unlikely choice, as they'll be playing ProgWest2002 where they'll be debuting their new metal arrangements of Herp Albert's Tijuana Brass. They hope to win the New Jerseyites over by performing an avant/death metal ballet adaptation of Springsteen's Greetings From Ashbury Park.
Maudlin of the Well

<>Ruins have threatened to fly WWII vintage airplanes emblazoned with the rising sun flag into the War Memorial if they're not chosen to participate. As listeners-in-the-know will no doubt know, an actual performance would essentially be an aural representation of such an event.

~~~~~~~~~~~ Section 2: Also Surviving ~~~~~~~~~~~

These crafty survivors have decided to band together to overthrow the first tier bands in Section 1, after which they'll compete amongst themselves for the draft picks.

<>Avant Garden<>
<>Avant Garden will apply the best of their extreme, esoteric, contact competition gardening techniques to create an army of monstrous 40 foot venus fly traps to flank all entrances to the War Memorial. These hybrids of plant and machine will be bred with advanced facial recognition technology that will automatically recognize and eat the competition.
Avant Garden

<>Calliope threatens to sweeten us to death if they don't get their break at NF.

<>These guys have decided to let others have a go. They're happy with their reception in 2002, they're happy with their performance and the upcoming DVD recording of it, and they'd prefer to hold off on another trip here since they're just shy of qualifying for senior citizens' discounts at the local buffets.

A "strangely oil and water . . . weltanschauung . . . [that's] more redolent of bile and petrol . . ."

<>I'm getting hungry for The International Arabian Gallbladder Buffet!

A Kingdom of The Netherlands NEARfest coup has been in the designing stages for four years now. With military expenditures reaching approximately 7 billion dollars annually and a landmass totaling almost twice the size of New Jersey, their confidence in success is almost cavalier. Despite these vast resources at her disposal, Queen Beatrix has limited action to The Royal Constabulary. After preliminary intelligence gathering, they'll execute a sharply focused police action designed to foil the best-laid plans of their hapless enemies. Ecstasy, one of The Netherlands' largest U.S. exports, will be in plentiful supply for post-announcement celebrations.

<>French TV<>
<>Soldier of Fortune Mike Sary just recently returned from a tour of duty in East Asia where he rescued a mistakenly shipped "The Case Against Art" disc from languishing in a Bangkok record store bin. Using the newly christened, freedom-loving Department of Homeland Security, he's planning a full frontal military assault featuring a prototype of the $11 billion Crusader Artillery System on anyone who stands in the way of French TV this year. He's calling all pizza deliverymen and cable guys to send informative TIPS to
French TV

<>Their plan to upset the course of Borknagar seems set in place.

<>Mark 1<>
Opting for the medieval fashion statement of Arthurian England, Mark I will bring back the days of selfless chivalry and win the battle for the honor of a virgin damsel.
Mark 1

<>We consider Psiglo a shoe-in since another no-show for Uruguay would undoubtedly be a fatal embarrassment for NEARfest.

<>Sebastian Hardie<>
<>Sebastian will destroy the competition by reprising some of the best strategies employed by his Uncle Ollie.
Sebastian Hardie

<>Shalabi Effect<>
<>Shalabi Effect's plans are unclear at the moment, as they claim transmissions from the Eagle Nebula have been unreliable of late. But why do some of their notices come through loud and clear, and how do they plan to play NEARfest if they haven't yet begun the 7,000 light year journey? Are they really from the Eagle Nebula, that wing-swept bird of another galaxy, otherwise known as Messier Object 16, or M16? Or is this all just a cover for a secret identity, a deception or musical ruse, a covert operation designed to distract us while they slip into NEARfest unhindered by the routine machinations that bind the rest of the competition? Wait a minute: Messier Object 16: is it M16, as in M ONE 6 or M *I* 6, the infamous branch of British intelligence, otherwise known as The Firm? The agency that conjures images of Swiss army knife Aston Martins, exploding attaché cases, and Gold Toe socks that transform into nuclear powered cigarette lighters made to impress beautiful Russian secret agents? This whole idea of improvised first takes and the so-called, "inability to ever play the same song twice" smacks of a secrecy made for suspicion; it smacks of a betrayal by our northern next-door neighbor, the good Queen's shackle-like commonwealth of Canada!
Shalabi Effect

<>Smoking Granny<>
Smokin' Granny

~~~~~~~~~Section 3: No Hopes of Surviving ~~~~~~~

The rest of these are new reviews and updates of old ones. Either way, the day these bands play is the day the National Organization of Women will adopt the burka as their standard of dress.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Letters~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Dear Mr Jestersaurus,
I think the idea of covering the NEARfest again this year is so totally predictable that I wouldn't have predicted it in a million years! Kudos for the brilliant surprise!

Jeremy Tupelo
Recraniumtum, ND

Dear Mr Jestersaurus,
As a member of one of the bands featured in this issue, one that shall remain nameless, I must object to what I perceive as a decidedly negative portrayal. Our music would sell like PHAD THAI in Bangkok you brain-dead, antediluvian fruitcake! Next time you feign to write something 'clever' about us be sure to enlist the aid of the first autistic toddler you can find: compared to your fatuous scribblings it would surely brim with high-brow intellectual humor that bursts with side-splitting emotion.

An Indignant, Pissed Off Musician in Louisville, KY

P.S. Your father wore a tutu and your mother had an affair with an effeminate, leaf-eating apatosaurus.

Dear Mr Jestersaurus,
I think a canker sore looks a lot like a big zit but my acne medication doesn't work on it. The thing is extremely painful and I find it hard to eat. Any suggestions?

Josh Whitehead
Black Point, CT

Dear Mr Whitehead,
If it looks like a zit then it is a zit. Your problem may have something to do with the overwhelming size of the excruciating sore in question, being too large for a standard acne medication to eradicate. My suggestion is to treat it like the roiling sebaceous geyser that it is: place it between two fingernails and pop that mother like a millennially dormant volcano. You might want to have some aspirin on hand.


<>Be famous! Write to Jestersaurus at<>

~~~~~~~~~~~~~Jestersaurus Staff~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Jestersaurus Rex, Editor: Mac Beaulieu
Coordinating Editor for Gnosis: Mac Beaulieu, Mike McLatchey
Coordinating Editor for Exposé: Peter Thelen
Jestersaurus Web Development or something: Dirk Evans, Mike Prete

. . . and there was much rejoicing (hooray)

Gnosis Writers Staff
Expose Writers Staff

Jestersaurus is a satirical newsletter published by The Gnosis Project. Jestersaurus uses invented names in some of its material. Exceptions include cases in which public figures and other individuals are being satirized. Any other use of real names is accidental and coincidental. The content of this newsletter--graphics, text and other elements--is copyright (c) The Gnosis Project, and may not be reprinted or retransmitted in whole or in part without the expressed written consent of the publisher. Jestersaurus is not intended for readers under 18 years of age.