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Travelog of Southwest Wisconsin, 2005
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Domination of Eiler Journal #8: Operation Darkflower III
What Is the Domination of Eiler?
In one sense, "The Domination of Eiler" is a political entity modeled upon the Holy Roman Empire. Which is to say, it works through national and local political entities, but transcends nation-state boundaries. You may already be a citizen without knowing it!
In another sense, "The Domination of Eiler" is a pen name for an amateur but very prolific web journalist. Perhaps you may enjoy these travel writings, given this simple guide:
The Domination of Eiler is led by, of course, the Dominator.
Its chief military force, and bodyguard of the Dominator, is the Domination Guard.
The Domination's world headquarters is in Scumburg-Illinois, near Chicago. As such, Wisconsin is a frequent target for Domination patrols.
The Domination of Eiler is continuing its series of short-range offensives into Wisconsin. Operations Waka Pig, Darkflower I, and Freebooter have extended the Domination's frontline throughout southeastern Wisconsin. Next, southwestern Wisconsin submits!
But first, the Eiler Doctrine will be invoked in Madison, Wisconsin for the Thanksgiving holiday.
- Ever since 1983, the Domination of Eiler has a long and honorable tradition of freeloading its Thanksgiving dinner, often from relatives, but preferably from friends. This tradition evolved such that Domination forces often travelled for its dinner.
- But the Domination of Eiler also has an honorable tradition of travel for Thanksgiving, in addition to what it takes for a free dinner. At the height of this tradition, one Thanksgiving exercise involved deployment from Massachusetts to New Hampshire and then straight to California, from where a bottle of Napa Valley wine was hand-carried to Thanksgiving dinner in Maine, which was immediately followed by a week in Texas.
- More recently, some Domination operations have revealed the wisdom of Thanksgiving vacation. The Domination first conquered New Orleans this way, before New Orleans sank.
- This has developed into a mixed doctrine. Why not Thanksgiving dinner the traditional way, and then vacation the other way?
- This doctrine admittedly leads to short vacations, but this fits the Domination plan for midwestern North America. Domination operations against Chicago-accessible areas such as Rantoul-Illinois and Nappanee-Indiana have proven the success of this approach.
Due to similarities with last year's Thanksgiving offensives Darkflower I and II, this operation has been designated Darkflower III.
Coincidentally, it comes to the Domination's attention that the Xmas anthem "White Christmas" has thus far escaped rewriting to become a Domination patriotic song. This deplorable situation is hereby rectified, in a manner which makes it the official music for this operation.
"I'm dreaming of a dark flower,
This time of year it always blooms,
Bringing Domination throughout the nation,
To spread its might throughout the gloom..."
Day 0: Wednesday 23 November 2005
For early stages of the operation, the Domination is reinforcing its control of previously-patrolled areas.
- As for Operation Waka Pig, the Domination conquered its weekly ration of pictoral literature from provider "Dreamland Comics", then snuck out of Chicagoland at 5 pm, via back roads south of Elgin-Illinois. This worked out nicely; back roads were barely crowded at all.
- The Domination armored force thereby made it onto The Great Barrier Road ("Interstate 90", in non-Domination terms), with every expectation of speedily penetrating all the way to Madison. (Operational music "Saltorello".)
- Sadly, speed was not to be. The Illinois Tollway barricades at South Beloit gave three full miles of resistance to Domination. Back roads are much less crowded on Thanksgiving Eve, but main roads are much more crowded. Illinois government responded to this annual transportation crisis, by closing all the automatic coin lanes at South Beloit.
Domination forces therefore chose not to penetrate to Madison. Instead, the forces bivouaced in the previously-occupied town of Janesville, at about 6:30 pm.
- Provider "Oasis Motel" was chosen for barracks. It has all the advantages of the nearby Super 8, and more. For one thing, it's quieter. It has fewer patrons, due apparently to the fact that all its advertising is by neon lights.
- Nearby well-known restaurant "Red Robin" provided a "pot roast burger" (better known outside Red Robin as "pulled roast beef sandwich"), washed down with the fine draft beer "Red Hook Red Robin Ale" .
- Red Robin had the advantage of gift certificates. The Dominator had one of these in his possession, won (for once) in a charity raffle.
- But Red Robin had the drawback of unruly underage guests. A three-year-old was observed in the bar, loudly shaking down his parents for money to play the video games. To avoid the resulting bar fights, the Domination troops evacuated as quickly as possible.
- In the last occupation of Janesville, the local mall was only barely noticed. This time, it was subjugated. But amazingly, the mall mostly consisted of only one store: Blaine's Farm and Fleet! It's like a super Wal-Mart, only with more cool guy stuff like bandanas, hard hats, and really cheap flannel shirts. A bag full of trophies was conquered.
- As in the last occupation of Janesville, "Milwaukee Grill" provided dessert: pumpkin cheesecake (not white chocolate raspberry cheesecake like last time), washed down with the Gray's Amber Ale of Janesville. An underage patron was present near the bar, but was much better behaved than at the hamburger chain place.
- The Oasis Restaurant provided decaf coffee, biscuits and gravy, so as to give the Domination forces a headstart on breakfast tomorrow.
- Absolutely no junior patrons were present near the counter; their handlers prefer the smoke-free dining room.
- As ever, when presented with the choice of smoke vs. children, the Domination chooses smoke, because at least smoke can be blown away.
Local sources indicate, General Motors hasn't decided whether to close its local plant as part of its upcoming national wave of plant closures. One local says, it could get interesting.
Troops moved out in excellent order, and advanced into Madison via back road U.S. 14, largely just for the pleasure of bringing the Domination of Eiler to Evansville-Wisconsin and the surrounding dairylands. (Operational music "The Quarterdrawing of the Dog".)
- The leading target in Evansville itself turned out to be a Piggly-Wiggly which wasn't closed for Thanksgiving. As special as this is, the target was still bypassed.
- The drive yielded some photo opportunities, such as a farmer in blaze orange arctic gear making the rounds on an all-terrain quadricycle, and the Wisconsin Statehouse dome rising above the dairy fields. Sadly, the Dominator's camera had no film. For photos, the Domination Guard force will have to brave an electronics mart... on The Dreaded Day After Thanksgiving.
- Otherwise, the drive was entirely successful. Troops on station in barracks "Quality-Inn" by 10:30 am.
Afternoon allocated for Eiler Doctrine intervention. High winds and chill prevent a bike ride, but a nice walk there and back is still feasible. Everyone should get a walk after Thanksgiving dinner.
Mission successful, or at least the associate-Eilers didn't swear vengeance within the Dominator's earshot. And this part of the Eiler clan has more than one quirky artist-painter, so a few extra personally-designed machine-crafted flag-shaped bits of smiley-face artwork (a.k.a. the Domination Battle Flag) blended right in.
Evening allocated for relaxation at Great Dane Brewpub, with the Dominator's loved ones. No, not his relatives, his loved ones. That is to say, comic books, web pages (particularly this one, citizen), and pumpkin ale.
While the Domination of Eiler troopers slept, the barracks filled up with children and their handlers. Breakfast was mobbed, but congenial under the circumstances. Among other things, a fresh waffle was conquered.
The dreaded mall has been bypassed, by the simple expedient of buying a storage card at a nearby Walgreens drugstore. Even the crappy photo cards that drugstores sell nowadays, will do the job. They can store 1800 Domination web-grade pictures, or 600 if the Domination's photographer finally turns up the quality. In comparison, the Domination's six-year-old photo card only stored one tenth the pictures. Gotta love that 2005 tech.
Snow is moving into the area from the west. The Domination of Eiler is meeting the challenge head-on, and contining its drive toward the west. Domination forces moved out in excellent order around 10:30 am, striking toward the Wisconsin River.
Given the Domination's previous experience invading Wisconsin, it was no surprise that 90% of attractions were closed this time of year. The invasion force concentrated on the remaining 10%.
- Target of opportunity "Mazomanie" revealed itself. Its main distinction is, it's very proud that trains used to stop there.
- Like many small towns, it has a Historical Society... operated by one old lady, and open Sunday afternoons, roughly 1 to 4 pm. This being Friday morning, the Historical Society resisted the Domination's assault.
- However, the town is built around historic depot, station, and mill buildings adjacent to the railroad. These now house the public library, a restaurant, and a cute gift shop. And there are historical markers all around, enough to fill a museum.
- No trophies were taken, but one pint of cafe latte was conquered, at the congenial coffee shop "Whistle Stop Cafe".
- Prime target for the day was "House on the Rock".
- To the Dominator's surprise, this house was not built by Frank Lloyd Wright. That house would be the nearby "Taliesyn", which is only open on weekends this time of year. And Thanksgiving Friday doesn't count as a weekend for that purpose.
- This House on the Rock was built by a local eccentric, who never made it through college, and made his living out of building a very peculiar house - and then charging admission to the curious locals. This mushroomed into sheer unfocused collection and architectural mania.
- The house is filled with musical machines (conveniently token-operated for nominal fees), carousels, memorabilia, and (at Xmastime) cheap St. Klaus dolls everywhere. But some parts of the grounds are barely tall enough for hobbits.
- Open Thursday through Sunday, April through December, more often in the summer.
By this time, the snow was becoming contentious. Forces could have pressed on to Mississippi River points Dubuque or Prairie du Chien in another 90 minutes or so - but weren't sure what the purpose would be, other to sleep in a cheap chain hotel.
Instead, the Domination followed local intelligence reports to find the Brewery Creek Inn, a brewpub-inn in Mineral Point, Wisconsin. Lodgings were obtained, not cheap, but quality. Lunch was also obtained, cheap.
Mineral Point claims to be Wisconsin's first territorial capital. The Gov didn't leave behind any ostentatious domes as in Madison, but Mineral Point has a main street ("High Street") filled with cute shops that sell art and antiques, very scenic when snow is falling. These were all bypassed, but several more meaningful places submitted to the Domination of Eiler:
- Jim's Barber Shop submitted a haircut. The Dominator's long hair is getting a lot more stringy than it was even in 1999; it is therefore unworthy and must die. And Jim the barber has lots of Chicago phone company stories.
- The Foundry Bookstore had lots of interesting history books... starting at $15, and only more expensive as they got more out of date. No trophies were taken here, but the proprietors submitted some local intelligence that the Railway Museum would be open the next day. Weekends only, dammit.
- The local Ben Franklin department store (and its three generations of proprietors) submitted a jar of cherry mustard... ironically from Michigan, the evil enemy of the Wisconsin cherry industry.
- The Bargain Nook thrift store submitted a used copy of the paperback real-life thriller, "Black Hawk Down", for $0.50. Proceeds go to benefit developmentally disabled adults. Facility tours available, Monday through Friday.
- Two cheap bars along High Street rebelled against Domination. They put up noxious nicotine-based smoke screens, and refused to submit any draft beer. One place even swore that outside the brewpub, no place in town even had draft beer. But the Cruise Inn proved them wrong, by submitting pints of Michelob Amber Bock for $2. Burgers also available. Bring the whole family, you'll fit right in - as long as the kids actually behave.
- As ever, the cheaper the place, the more well-behaved the children. There's no good reason why this should be true, but it's still true.
- The Mineral Spirit Saloon is a Fancy Place. It submitted dinner and yet more draft beer, imported in from Fancy Places in Madison and New Glarus.
- But with all this fine beer on tap, the Domination trooper was the only one drinking it, even though the place was jumping. Everyone else got no more fancy than the bottled Moosehead of St. Johns, New Brunswick. And the bottled Miller Lite of Milwaukee and the Bud Lite of St. Louis predominated.
- The fanciness of the cuisine only extended to "Spinach and Feta Cheese Pizza". Other choices include burgers and Friday Night Fish Fry... and pastys.
- The locals indicate, Mineral Point is the pasty capital of Wisconsin. (Pronounced "passsty", not "paaaasty". Don't mispronounce, or locals will make fun of you. And the plural is "pastys", not "pasties". "Pasties" are what erotic dancers wear.)
- A pasty is a meat pie. Of course, it is on the menu here. So the Domination had to conquer one. Entirely tasty, but why did Wisconsin (of all places) forget to put in cheese?
- ... Locals have responded! Pastys are Welsh and Cornish convenient mining cuisine - and these immigrants mostly didn't have cheese before they came to Wisconsin. Some Wisconsin pastys are said to come with cheese, but it's optional.
- Aside from cuisine, this Fancy Place offers card games at the bar! Truly this is a local hangout, and much less grim than many of the others.
- Back at the lodgings, the Brewery Creek Inn submitted dessert: multi-berry pie, nicely cold, with whipped cream on top. And beer, and water. But watch out, they close at 8:30! This policy gives silence for their guests... including the Domination tonight, thanks.
- That's it for tonight, other than a big pitcher of ice water, and maybe a nice dip in the in-room whirlpool tub, with some mineral spirits provided by the inn. What are the minerals for? Perhaps the Domination shall find out for itself.
Domination morning of rest, but afternoon of resurgence, thanks no doubt to the healing power of ice water and mineral spirits the night before.
Before the forces left town, they subdued the Mineral Point Railway Museum.
- It's a typical small-town museum, dedicated to when the train tracks came through town. Now the Railway Museum is adjacent to a 60-mile bike path instead of a railroad.
- Most worthy of note: An exhibit is dedicated to the last railroad agent in town, Cletus Hying. And Cletus himself stopped by the museum this morning to greet the visitors. He and the Dominator compared walking sticks.
- Five postcards were conquered, and promptly mailed to associate-Eilers throughout the length of the Domination.
Troops then deployed eastward to Mount Horeb (with operational music "New York Mining Disaster 1941"), where several points submitted to the Domination of Eiler. Local museums were unexpectedly open! But first...
- The Cave of the Mounds submitted an hour-long cave tour. But thanks to the larval human howler monkeys on the tour, it felt like two hours. They missed no opportunity to test the cave acoustics for echo effect.
- The cave was inadvertently dynamited open in 1939... and open to tourists by 1940. So, it doesn't exactly compare with the Mark Twain Cave of Hannibal-Missouri for history.
- It's also a fairly small cave, in more than one respect. The tour group really had to go slow to spend the full hour there.
- Also, the tour group was commanded not to touch the walls. But there are places in the cave where a grown man (such as the Dominator) can't help but touch the walls.
- Coincidentally, the morning newspaper said, another major Midwestern earthquake (like in 1811) is only a matter of time. Thank you, the New Madrid Fault, for working with human howler monkeys and songs about mining disasters, to make today's cave tour especially adventurous.
- The Grumpy Troll Brew Pub submitted the 1 pm Breakfast of Champions. Yum! And Mount Horeb is a good town to ask for mustard in... as one of the local museums would later prove. If you ask for mustard at the Grumpy Troll, they'll bring you a sampler tray!
- The Mount Horeb Area Museum submitted lots of small-town historical museum stuff, with cultural history and artifacts. Including, of all things, a Gay Bob doll. Come out of the closet with Gay Bob!
- The Mount Horeb Mustard Museum submitted displays of mustard from throughout the world. (Except France, for some reason.) Also many fine motivational posters, putting down ketchup and mayonnaise.
- So why Mount Horeb love mustard so much? If one believes the exhibits, it's just because the mustard museum proprietor became obsessive-compulsive about baseball food after the Boston Red Sox lost the 1986 World Series!
- More than half the "museum" is actually a gift shop full of mustard. Trophies were taken.
Domination forces then swung south, and advanced rapidly on back roads toward New Glarus and Monroe. Both these towns are home to Swiss-American people and large breweries. However, New Glarus's brewery is closed on Saturdays, and the town offered little otherwise, at least outside tourist season. Monroe was therefore chosen for garrison.
- Provider "Super 8" submitted barracks. The usual haggling for a quiet room occurred, and the Domination troops still got stationed next to the master ventilation unit. Good thing the Domination has earplugs.
- Nearby restaurant Ludlow Bar submitted bratwurst, washed down with the Berghoff Red of Monroe - at Happy Hour prices, even on Saturday! Judging by ads in the hotel directory, even the local Fancy Places by the town square don't get much fancier than that.
- Lastly, driven by forces barely comprehended, the Domination subdued the lonely local Dollar General store, and stocked up on toilet paper, flavored water, and some candy canes to share at work.
- Weather and road conditions finally allow bike riding. But after this big day of Domination, the troops are too tired to do anything else other than conquer the Super 8 hot tub.
- Yes, really. "Super 8 hot tub." No pool at Super 8, but who needs the pool when you have the hot tub?
Thanks to eastward and southward deployment on Saturday, Domination forces are now nicely situated for rapid return to the District of Dominance - without braving the dreaded South Beloit-Illinois toll plaza.
And so, the Domination forces have once again surprised the coalition partners at its regular church, by showing up for Kingdom-of-Heaven obeisance on a vacation day. This has now been accomplished from each of four states that border Lake Michigan.
Overall, this operation shows almost all the signs of success:
- Many (well, some) trophies captured.
- Much fine beer consumed, of Wisconsin quality, and all on draft. (In the Wisconsin news this weekend: Wisconsin students drink more than other students. State government responds, everyone in Wisconsin drinks more than other states.)
- Much (well, some) work done on the Domination's fiction-blog November episode. But as ever, the Domination's real-life adventures take precedence over the fictional adventures, at least while the real-life adventures are still happening.
- The Domination's frontline extended yet again.
- But no bike riding done, no books read, and no sticks carved. Oh well.
Still, Domination of Eiler forces return triumphant, all praise to the One Maker.
(signed) Dominator S. Eiler, Fist of the One Maker, for the Domination of Eiler.