Written by Doppelbock
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Thursday, 26 April 2007

In order to understand Doppelbock, you must first understand the history of his family -- the Bock family.

This history began in pre-Celtic Wales, around 900 B.C., just before sunset on a Tuesday afternoon, when a tribe of semi-nomadic sheepherders held a coming of age feast for a certain young man. This lad was the only member of the clan who knew the symbols of writing, having been tutored by the clan's venerable scribe. It was fairly understood by the clan that the boy would go on to do great things -- to the extent that semi-nomadic sheepherders in pre-Celtic Wales went on to do great things, of course -- so his coming of age feast was exceptionally lavish, involving the consumption of much haggis and a primitive beverage that we could forgivingly regard here as an early form of beer. The boy ate and drank to excess, and his overindulgence brought many evil spirits to his stomach. These were foul demons of the air that howled in rage, seeking escape from his mouth and other end.

At one point during the ceremony, just as the pressure from these evil spirits was reaching a climax, the clan chieftain Huk announced that since the boy was of age it was time for him to choose his family name. No sooner had he made this pronouncement that one particularly angry spirit invoked strong magic and escaped through the boy's mouth, coming out sounding like "BOCK". So Chieftain Huk said, "Your new family name is Bock."

Thus, the Bock family had its humble beginnings.

The boy, Bock, decided he liked his new name. He was grateful that the first angry spirit had escaped through his mouth instead of the other end; otherwise his name might have been "FFFFBLLAAAAAARRT" instead of Bock. Ooohh, the spirits were getting very angry now, and Bock had to go into the woods to squat amongst the animals.

Soon, Chieftain Huk announced it was time for Bock to choose a bride. There were many girls available in the clan, thought Bock. Whom to choose? This one - wide hips, good child bearer. That one - strong arms, good working in fields. Yet another - strong legs, good climbing trees for fruit. Still another - keen eyes, good for watching the flocks. Bock thought, then thought more, then thought still more. Finally he just chose the girl with the biggest tits. He named her Ta-Ta-Bock.

Bock and Ta-Ta-Bock made many children. Those children grew up, chose mates, and made their own children, and so it went for many generations, and indeed, even today, shows no sign of halting. Bock, being a scribe, was very keen on recording his family's history, and of course he trained his sons in the writing symbols. Thus the history and lore of the Bock family has been passed down from generation to generation, each eldest son in turn adding to the body of knowledge. This great tome of wisdom became known as the Kleptonomicon. It actually has very little bearing on this story, but the dear reader would be hard-pressed to deny that it makes for a rather kick-ass book title.

Eventually, circa the late 1300's (A.D.), a few of the Bock sons left Wales and traveled to Germany. Here the Bocks prospered and thrived for many centuries, and were much acclaimed for their musical prowess. In particular, Johann Sebastian Bock was a musician, composer, and conductor of great renown. But the Bocks, coming originally from semi-nomadic stock, were wanderers at heart, and it was in the spirit of seeking new adventure that young Üffda Bock traveled to the United States of America, in 1889.

After years of working hard as a factory worker, an itinerant potato farmer, and a dressmaker's dummy, Üffda had saved enough to start his own business. Bock & Sons began their Dayton, Ohio manufacturing operation by grinding out gears. Soon ball bearings were rolling off their production lines. They later counted themselves prominently in the adding machine business, and also expanded into vacuum tubes.

The members of the board of directors of Bock & Sons were quite the forward-looking visionaries, and in the late 1940's, seeing the direction the country was headed, they renamed the company Cyberbock Industries Incorporated. In addition to entering the fledgling computer industry, they also penetrated the sex toys industry at this time. By the dawn of the space age Üffda Bock had long since retired and turned the company over to his son Günter Bock, although Günter's sisters Amber Bock-Light and Esther Bunny Bock-Bock both held positions on the corporate board.

Günter married Penelope Pilsner, and together they had six children, the oldest male being Weizen Heimer Bock (although the modern-day Bocks were given to contracting their names, e.g., to Weizenbock). Weizenbock was an extremely restless and inquisitive child, who as an adult did not go into the family business but instead chose to be a research physicist. In the mid 1960's Weizenbock became a father under very unusual and suspicious circumstances: only one infant son, Doppelbock, was delivered in and brought home from the hospital, but a corrected birth announcement was sent out a week later indicating that twin sons, Doppelbock and Trippelbock, had been birthed. An air of secrecy and scandal surrounded these events within the family, but the recollections and consequently the significance of the incident became muted with age, and eventually all but forgotten.

The boys had an interesting relationship with sound. Specifically, they were fascinated with sound, and they loved to make various noises: cartoon voice imitations, loud bird whistling and other animal noises, armpit farts, and countless other sound effects. They were quite incapable of remaining silent for any interval of more than a few seconds in duration. The brothers would later graduate to firecrackers and much larger noisemaking devices, but first, at a young age, they became interested in music. Fatherbock (as they referred to their father, Weizenbock) wisely refused to feed into their desire to take up the drums, but he did purchase an upright piano for the family, which the two took to immediately.

Since there were physical limits to the volume of noise that could be produced by an acoustic piano sans electronic amplification, the young twins became enamored with the pipe organ at Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church and Bingo Parlor, in a semi-rural area somewhat to the north of Cincinnati, Ohio. This pipe organ had been bequeathed to the church by the University of Cincinnati's Mechanical Engineering Class of '62, who had built it for their senior group design project using spare turbojet parts donated by the nearby G.E. Aircraft Engines plant. It ran on JP-4 jet aviation fuel and achieved a respectable 2.5 hymns per gallon.

The pipe organ was mounted in a bunker-like blockhouse that sat atop a hill at the far end of the cemetery grounds adjacent to the church sanctuary. The parallel ranks of different sized exhaust nozzles jutting from the top of the blockhouse represented the collective terminus of a complicated system of baffles designed to reduce the volume to a dull roar when heard from inside the sanctuary. The larger trumpet-shaped protuberances extending horizontally from one side of the blockhouse were air intakes, and a tall chain-link fence extended around them at a safe distance to prevent visitors from being forcibly ingested by the pull of the incoming airflow and subsequently chopped into chutney by the 15,000 rpm turbine blades into which these intakes fed.

That the non-Catholic brothers were permitted access to the device was unusual, but Trippelbock had somehow cleared things with the powers-that-be at the church, so that one evening per week they each took a half-hour lesson in the blockhouse with the church's organist. The two continued their happy love affair with this glorious noisemaking machine for many months, until one day, unable to restrain himself any longer, Doppelbock pulled out the stop labeled "afterburner" and then hammered down a ten-fingered chord with a couple of bass pedals thrown in for effect. When the brothers and the organist finally managed to stagger out of the blockhouse, they found that the headstones in the cemetery had all been flattened, the church sanctuary was now without windows, the bell mounted in its steeple had achieved some kind of high harmonic energy state that caused it to screech metallically for several tens of minutes, and the surrounding church and cemetery grounds were littered with the remains of a flock of sparrows unfortunate enough to have been passing overhead at the time. The two boys were not invited to return for further lessons.

In the fall of 1982, Doppelbock and Trippelbock entered the Aerospace Engineering program at the University of Cincinnati. They had selected this particular degree program in large part because they figured that few things on this earth could make more noise than rocket engines. The products of combustion left the exit plane of a rocket engine at speeds typically five to eight times the speed of sound, forming complicated patterns of intersecting shock waves that were noise in the purest, rawest, and loudest of forms, usually requiring elaborate noise suppression systems that flooded the launch pad with millions of gallons of water to dampen the noise and keep the pad from being reduced to rubble. Rocket engines were, in fact, nothing more than fuel-to-noise converters that happened to produce thrust as a fortuitous side effect.

The curriculum initially focused on fundamentals such as calculus and freshman-level physics, which seemed to them to be rather far removed from fun things such as rocket engines and noise, and consequently they were only marginally interested and got poor grades. From time to time, though, one or the other of them would make the intuitive leap from some concept learned in class to its potential application in the domain of extravagant sound effects, and in a burst of enthusiasm would employ the concept on some class project, often to impressively disastrous effect. One such occasion, for example, involved the pitot-static tubes in the University's mach 2+ wind tunnel, which were normally used to measure the airflow pressure and velocity at various stations within the tunnel. Inspired by a lecture in vibration theory, Trippelbock tuned these tubes to double as pitch pipes, and consequently, when the wind tunnel was powered up, the tubes produced a hellish multi-tonic scream that simultaneously hit several of the fundamental frequencies of the wind tunnel structure itself, thereby causing a large air mass (initially at mach 2+ but rapidly decreasing in velocity) and chunks of wind tunnel debris to go swirling through the engineering building's basement aero lab

It was halfway into their sophomore year when they hit a particular low spot and were quite demoralized with the whole program. In addition to their poor grades, they were, at long last, starting to outgrow their infatuation with noise, and as of yet there was nothing they were particularly passionate about that could take its place. They were sitting in their dorm room one afternoon, discussing whether or not to transfer into the Computer Science program, where, they were given to understand, both the classes and the girls were much easier, when suddenly the door to their room opened and a man entered. He looked to be perhaps in his late 30's and wore a Rush concert tee-shirt from a 2000 tour. Something was vaguely familiar about the man's appearance and behavior. He acted as if he owned the place; he grabbed a beer out of the mini-fridge, plopped himself down on the foot of Trippelbock's bed, emitted a single loud and particularly malodorous fart, and affixed both brothers with a shit-eating grin.

Then he jammed his pinky finger into his nostril up to the third joint and began digging for boogers: a gesture that Doppelbock had seen many, many times before.

It was Trippelbock. Only... an older version of Trippelbock. A Trippelbock from the future!

Trippelbock-from-the-future (whom shall henceforth be referred to as Trippelbock-future) explained that he had been in a laboratory accident involving an explosively pumped tachyon particle beam generator, while on sabbatical from NASA in 2001 to finish his PhD dissertation research on time travel. The accident sent him back to 1982, and he had spent many months getting rich on sporting bets and making some stock investments before coming to visit his brother and his younger self (whom henceforth shall be referred to as Trippelbock-present).

Trippelbock-future quickly became like a father figure to the two (sadly, Fatherbock had passed away a couple of years previously), although naturally he tended to favor Trippelbock-present. He moved the brothers off-campus with him in a large and luxuriously-appointed house that he had purchased from the proceeds of his sporting bets. He was an expert in engineering (as well as more advanced sciences and physics) and helped the two get through their degree programs, even instilling in them an interest in and appreciation for rockets and spacecraft on their own (non-noisemaking) merits. Upon graduation the two brothers were fast-tracked into the astronaut training program as payload specialists, owing to various favors called in by members of the Cyberbock senior management staff and some information of a particularly embarrassing nature that Trippelbock-future had somehow obtained on certain members of the NASA astronaut selection board.

Trippelbock-future and the two brothers moved to Houston, and for a while life was good. The astronaut training program was intensely competitive, since only a handful of the top scoring trainees would actually graduate to become astronauts. Consequently the brothers often worked 16 hour days, but they played hard to make up for it. Doppelbock rediscovered his love of music and began to play in area bands. Meanwhile, Trippelbock-future reestablished his time travel research program and was making great strides, assisted by Trippelbock-present.

Finally in November of 1989 the two brothers faced their qualifying on-orbit training exercise: a quick jaunt into low earth orbit to get checked out on the artificial gravity generator, a big rotating wheel that produces centripetal acceleration forces. Since the gravity at the astronauts' feet was greater than the gravity at their heads (because their feet were rotating through a larger circle), there was a tendency to become very disoriented and sick. The trainees were required to demonstrate that they could acclimate to this artificial gravity environment or they would be bumped from the program. It also did not help matters in the slightest that the trainers made each of them eat three liverwurst and head-cheese sandwiches before the station was spun up to speed. The entire class of trainees had a very rough time, and one would-be astronaut started a sympathetic chain reaction that took out almost half the class. But not the two brothers; they loved it. All those long hours Motherbock had kept them locked up in the clothes dryer were finally paying off. They were having a grand time - jumping up towards the shaft where gravity was very weak, doing flips, and just showing off in general - until Doppelbock jumped too high and his mullet got caught in the axle shaft, causing the whole station to come to a grinding halt. The trainers had to lop off his precious golden locks to free him, and the axle was jammed and wouldn't spin back up. Sadly, this also ended Doppelbock's budding music career, as his hair would never grow back right and he was soon booted from his spot as bass player for the up-and-coming heavy metal/bluegrass fusion band, the Mÿthryl Cowpokes.

Two days later, after returning to Houston, Doppelbock found that he had been cut from the astronaut program along with several other trainees. Trippelbock-present had just squeaked by; his name was at the bottom of the list of those who would graduate to become astronauts. If not for the mullet incident, things would have come out very differently.

Doppelbock was crushingly depressed when he returned home that day to the house the three of them shared in the upscale suburbs of Houston. Trippelbock-future tut-tutted, fixed Doppelbock's favorite meal for him - fried chicken livers, biscuits, and French fries, all in brown gravy - and was in general acting very motherly and consoling towards him. Doppelbock just sat there disconsolately, picking at his food.

When suddenly, it hit him.

Trippelbock-future had known. And had said nothing to him.

"You bastard!" shouted Doppelbock, pounding the table hard enough to overturn the gravy boat all over Trippelbock-future's designer tablecloth. "You KNEW ALL ALONG that my mullet was going to get caught in the axle shaft! Hell, the incident already happened seventeen years ago for you! You made Trippelbock get a haircut the day before astronaut training started, but you didn't say dick to me, now, did you?"

And he stormed out, slamming the door behind him.

Doppelbock wandered around town aimlessly for most of that evening, wondering how his own brother - albeit a future version - could betray him like that. Upon contemplation it became painfully obvious to him that Trippelbock-future had only needed him around to keep Trippelbock-present from getting bumped from the astronaut program. Doppelbock decided that he was done with the two Trippelbocks, and he wasn't going to stay around Houston any longer. He went back to get his things, and that's when he got his second shock of the day.

He walked in on Trippelbocks-future and -present, and they were, to put it delicately, going at it.

He always knew Trippelbock was a narcissistic bastard, but to travel back in time and have anal sex with himself? Holy shit, thought Doppelbock, that really bolds and underlines the "homo" in "homosexual", now doesn't it! The two were so tangled up together he couldn't even tell who was pitching and who was catching. Nothing he had ever read by Robert Heinlein even came close to preparing him for this. Well, okay, except for some of his later works; that stuff did start to get rather faggy.

Unseen, Doppelbock backed out of the room and continued to quietly pack his things. He reflected on the past few years and wondered if there were warning signs he had somehow missed. In retrospect, it was painfully obvious that Trippelbock-future was blazingly, five-alarm-fire gay, and that Doppelbock, socially inept as always, had just been completely oblivious to the many indicators: the penchant for Broadway musicals, his fussy neatness, the designer tablecloths, dotting his i's with little hearts, and countless others. Trippelbock-present, though, he was not so sure about. Really, up until recent events, the two brothers had been - well, identical. They were twins, after all. This raised all kinds of questions that Doppelbock did not care to dwell on, so he pushed all these thoughts out of his mind as best he could, finished packing his things, and moved on with his life.

Trippelbock-present went on to a successful astronaut career, and in 2001 he took a sabbatical from NASA to finish his Ph.D. research on time travel, with the result being that he was accidentally sent back in time to become "Trippelbock-future". Subsequently (subjectively speaking, that is), Trippelbock-future succeeded in building his first functioning and controllable time machine in 1993 and was neither seen nor heard from again until 2002, at which time we may as well refer to him merely as Trippelbock, to avoid confusion, since at that point in time there was only one of him. Along the way he incurred the notice of temporal police (apparently at some point in the future, time machines were required to be licensed), and consequently had to go into hiding as a llama herder in the Andes.

Doppelbock moved back to the Midwest, and obtained two master's degrees in succession, attending graduate school part-time in the evenings while working for a government think-tank. He then rediscovered a long-forgotten childhood love of oceanography and worked for two years documenting the migratory habits of the Pacific walrus. He spent a summer hiking across Wales, lived in an ancient inn for a year, and helped to catalogue a previously undiscovered holding of books and scrolls at the Chained Library at Hereford Cathedral. Finally, in 1998, he accepted an engineering position at the company founded by his great-grandfather Üffda Bock. His career skyrocketed over the next several years, and he eventually found himself in the position of Chief Technologist of Cyberbock Industries, Incorporated.

Doppelbock ("DB") likes progressive rock music (Rush in particular), loves fine craft beer, and will eat anything that's deep fried. And sorry, ladies -- he's married. He and Mrs. Bock have three children: DB-Junior, LittleMissAttitudeBock, and Toddlerbock.

The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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