The Bard and Jester

Welcome Readers! Here you will find some real life experiences and musings that I'd like to share with you. So, come on in, if you have the time and I'll do my best to be entertaining... Please click on my sponsors' links!!! Established March 12, 2005.

My Photo
Location: New York, United States

I can be a clown, a poet, a fool, a romantic, a diplomat, a all depends upon the timing and circumstance.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Boudicca: History's Real Warrior Queen

Boadicea by Petra Berger
Originally uploaded by vraven.

One of my heroes is Boudicca. Said to have been a big, strong woman and mighty warrior, she was the Queen of a Celtic/British tribe called the Iceni, but under Roman authority, around 61 CE...and one of the perfect examples of the old saying, "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned..."

When the Emperor Nero's taxes became too much to bear, Boudicca resisted and so the Romans had her beaten with rods and her daughters raped.

If they had thought this would make her obediant, they were sadly mistaken.

Instead, Boudicca took her rage and united most of the tribes of south east Britian. She launched a massive rebellion, defeating Roman armies left and right and nearly drove all of Rome's influence from the isle.

Governor General Seutonius Paulinus, in charge of the Roman occupation at that time, gathered the last Roman soldiers on the isle--about 10,000--and rushed to face Queen Boudicca's massive army. He chose a narrow mountain pass to make his final stand.

With 100,000 Celtic warriors against 10,000 Roman soldiers--10 to 1 odds--victory seemed assured for Boudicca.

But such was not the case.

The narrow pass chosen by the cunning Seutonius helped minimize the Celts' advantage of overwhelming numbers.

The strong individuality and howling beserker rage of the Celtic warriors made it difficult for Boudicca's commands to be heard and followed. The amazing iron discipline of the Romans enabled the soldiers to be a living wall upon which the rebels broke, like waves against rock. Through shrewd tactics and methodically replacing the front ranks with fresh troops, the Romans wore down the wild Celtic warriors.

The Celts' own chariots, which they loved to ride toward the enemy and hurl javelins from before entering the fray, blocked the Celts' retreat and the Roman soldiers mowed them down to a man.
Sensing defeat, Queen Boudicca took her own life by drinking poison before she could be captured.

However, her defeat actually turned out to be a victory of sorts.

The Romans never again had the resources to expand further over Britain and across the sea to Ireland, thus preserving Goedelic Celtic Culture from further Roman taint. And shocked by Boudicca's near-successful rebellion, the Romans adopted policies that were a little kinder.

Boadicea: An Ode

William Cowper (1731-1800)

WHEN the British warrior queen,
Bleeding from the Roman rods,
Sought, with an indignant mien,
Counsel of her country's gods,

Sage beneath a spreading oak
Sat the Druid, hoary chief;
Every burning word he spoke
Full of rage, and full of grief.

'Princess! if our aged eyes
Weep upon thy matchless wrongs,
Tis because resentment ties
All the terrors of our tongues.

'Rome shall perish--write that word
In the blood that she has spilt;
Perish, hopeless and abhorred,
Deep in ruin as in guilt.

'Rome, for empire far renowned,
Tramples on a thousand states;
Soon her pride shall kiss the ground--
Hark! the Gaul is at her gates!

'Other Romans shall arise,
Heedless of a soldier's name;
Sounds, not arms, shall win the prize--
Harmony the path to fame.

'Then the progeny that springs
From the forests of our land,
Armed with thunder, clad with wings,
Shall a wider world command.

'Regions Caesar never knew
Thy posterity shall sway,
Where his eagles never flew,
None invincible as they.'

Such the bard's prophetic words,
Pregnant with celestial fire,
Bending, as he swept the chords
Of his sweet but awful lyre.

She, with all a monarch's pride,
Felt them in her bosom glow;
Rushed to battle, fought, and died;
Dying, hurled them at the foe.

'Ruffians, pitiless as proud,
Heaven awards the vengeance due:
Empire is on us bestowed,
Shame and ruin wait for you.'

Friday, March 25, 2005

Comic Books, our Modern Myths

Why do I love comic books--especially the superhero books?

Originally, it was a colorful, flashy world that captivated my child-mind. You never knew what you'd see next and it seemed as if anything could happen there.

And since I've always been interested in mythology, as I got older, I was able to stick with reading comic books because I learned to see that superheroes and super villains are our modern myths (something, I think, Hollywood is only now finally discovering). Just read the early Arthurian Romances, or the myths of the Celts, especially the Mabinogion, or of the Greek or Norse, and see how similar the fantastic elements therein are to comic books--especially the superhero genre. A super strong man facing off against a 5-headed monster in order to save innocent people from the beast's wrath? Sounds like a comic book, right? It's from the Hercules myths. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby understood this when they married Norse myths with superhero comics when they published their interpretation of THOR.

I love thrilling tales of courage overcoming adversity, of archetypal good vanquishing archetypal evil; such stories have certainly had an influence on my developing character as I grew up.

I enjoy the escapist value comic books offer...especially in the wake of September 11th. I love to peel open the cover, like opening a magic door, and then stepping through, leaving behind, for a brief time, this mundane world--which can too often be so harsh; moms cutting off their babies limbs, political corruption, the latest murder news, etc--to enter a world of brilliant colors, dazzling sights, larger than life characters, mythic battles and creatures, fantastic gadgets and journeys to amazing worlds.

So much wonder in a thin stapled collection of paper.

Simply miraculous.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

September 11th Memorial for a Friend

September 11th
Originally uploaded by vraven.
In Memory Of Carl Molinaro,
Ladder Company 2,
who died a hero on September 11th, 2001

As children, during those long and seemingly endless summers, we played at being heroes together.

Then you went on to become a real one.

It is extraordinary souls like yours that remind us of the amazing and limitless depths of courage that our firefighters possess.

It is my hope that someday I might run into your wife and children, that I might tell them that I knew you as punk kid in Brooklyn and that you were courageous and heroic even back then (remember how we use to play stunt men and throw ourselves out of trees and over cars?)...and that I am proud and honored to have had such a valiant and selfless man as my friend.

I have a favorite quote that I'd like to share with you, Carl:

"All that is required for Evil to win in the world is for enough Good people to do nothing..."
--Edmund Burke

And I know that as long as there are good people like you, Carl, the world shall never succumb to evil.

Thank you, My Friend, for your dauntless heroism, your chivalrous sacrifice.

You, Carl, are the very definition of a hero.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Nearly Beaten to Death

William o'Connor's gangbeating
Originally uploaded by vraven.

When I was 15, in the summer of 1983, I was nearly beaten to death by a gang of punks in Prospect Park.

Myself and four other friends were wandering around the park at night, when we heard the music of a Jazz concert playing over at the band shell and decided to check it out. We weren't fans of Jazz, but it was a live show and we were bored and needed a break from our hiking.

On our way there, my friend Gerard kept looking over his shoulder and warning us that a large group of guys were following us. Foolishly forgetting my father's lessons on being wary of trouble, I scoffed at Gerard, called him paranoid, and led us on to our violent fate.

We reached the band shell. Back then it was fenced in and we sat on the grass beside the park's main road, just outside the fence. To either side of us, sat people on blankets watching the show.

A gang of about 15 to 20 guys came out of the darkness across the road and surrounded us.

"You wanna die?" one of them said and accused us of previously threatening one of their friends. The accusation wasn't true, merely just a false pretense to attack us.

The beatings began. My friend Gerard was smart; after getting kicked in his chest, he faked being seriously injured and they left him alone. I kept mouthing off so they'd ignore my friends as much as possible.

I was held against the fence and repeatedly kicked in the face. Then a number of the gang lined up before me. The first lifted my chin up to look into my face and the street light swung into view. Then the fast moving shadow of a fist blocked the light and BANG! a jarring blow that brought dancing stars to my vision and made my head ring. The next guy did the same to me and so on and so on, while live Jazz music played.

I had begged them to stop, through cracked and bleeding lips, but their lust for violence wasn't spent just yet.

None of the concert spectators lounging on their blankets did anything to help and I don't blame them; what could a few do against 15 to 20 mean-spirited punks?

At one point, I remember a fleeting hope as I saw a police car coming along the road towards us. The gang members paused, but the patrol car kept on going and passed away into the night.

The gang finished their punching and kicking and let us go after what must've been at least a half hour. It was difficult to tell just how long the beating lasted; by its end, I was only half-conscious, staggering off like Rocky Balboa in the last round of any one of his fights. I remember, as I walked down the main road towards the park exit and my home, leaning on my friend Gerard, that the vision in my left eye was weird; it had an odd liquid, split-field quality. My face was badly bruised and swollen on the left side--where all the kicks landed--my nose and lips bled and I would sport a serious black eye for some time.

When I got home, my mother cried and my father, angry, didn't ask how I was. Instead he asked, "How many did you drop?"

After that, I was forever different. The experience toughened me up like nothing else. Prior to that night, I had been physically abused for years by bullies, nuns and teachers in Catholic school and now, complied with the beating I took, I developed an intense victim's anger. It galvanized me to stand up to high school bullies like never before. My face learned a to wear a tough, intimidating expression (the "Eye of the Tiger" my mother liked to say) and I developed a serious chip on my shoulder. If you looked at me the wrong way, we'd get into a fight. I wasn't afraid of anyone. After all, what could one guy do to me, no matter how big he was, compared to what 20 guys did to me?

Unfortunately, my anger led me to join the rival gang of the guys who beat me up. With their help, I hunted some of them down, waiting till I could get each of them alone and then give them some violent payback. I didn't get all of them, maybe a third, but I felt some sense of revenge.

I stayed in the gang for a couple of years, out of a false sense of security. This was before rampant drive-by shootings and such, and my gang wasn't anywhere in the league of the major ones in Brooklyn. Most of our gang fights took place in the grassy fields of Prospect Park, not with guns, but with sticks, bats, chains and whatever else violent teens could get their hands on and use as weapons.

It was sort of like Braveheart when I think back on it; two armies charging towards each other, engaging in melee combat...except the Scots and the British armies never had to run from the field of battle when the police showed up.

Love & the Internet

lover moon
Originally uploaded by vraven.

I first met my wife through an online personals that I had half-forgotten about.

And since she had responded to my ad, I tease her by telling people, when explaining about how we first met, that she took one look at my photo and said,"Ummmm...yeah, I gotta get me some of that."

The internet, for me, is a magical thing of wonder. Like the weather in Steve Martin's imaginative romantic tale, LA STORY, the internet changed my life three times.

First, it opened up paths into spiritual exploration where I was finally able to break free of the last lingering cobwebs of my Catholic programming.

Second, it led me to NERO, a LARP (see for details) which brought me a huge creative outlet and an activity so dear to my heart that it sustained me during the most troubled time of my life.

And third (and three's the charm!) it brought me to my wife and the love of my life.

The thought that the internet can work miracles may seem, to others, silly or crazy...but not to me.

Each new day with my wife reminds me of the miracles the internet can work.

"Then I saw her face, now I'm a believer..."
-The Monkees

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


Originally uploaded by vraven.

I don't know if you believe in ghosts and the supernatural, but I'm open to the possibility. However, at the same time, I maintain a healthy skepticism because I really want to believe and, thus, I must be wary of deluding myself.

Let me tell you about an experience that helped me keep an open mind on the subject.

When I was a teen in the 80's, I was obessed with ninjas. I wanted to be a ninja more than anything else. When my dear parents gave me a ninja suit and mask one Christmas, I used it. Outdoors at night, stalking through shadowed alleys and backyards.

One night shortly after Independence Day, I decided to use my ninja outfit on "a mission" within Prospect Park. The mission: to harass drug dealers and gang members. The park had dark hills and trees...perfect for a young ninja-wannabe like myself.

So, I built a homemade bottle rocket launcher and convinced a couple of my friends to accompany me on the mission. They wore dark clothes and ski masks.

Into the park we went, making our way over a dark hill as stealthily as we could. Our destination: the ball fields at the foot of the hill. We knew that drug dealers hung out on the stone bleachers there.

My plan was for us to remain concealed in the shadows at the bottom of the hill, while I launched bottle rockets at the thugs on the bleachers. Then we'd run back up the hill to safety. After all, who'd be crazy enough to chase us up into the darkness, right?

Well, apparently someone was.

The thugs let out some suprised curses at the rockets' red glare and the bombs bursting in air. When the last bottle rocket exploded and crashed to the earth, a solitary figure detached himself from the gloom of the bleachers and came towards us.

"Holy shit," one of my friends whispered, "He must have a gun!"

We ran hard back up the hill. At the top, we stopped, panting and glancing over our shoulders, confident that the guy wouldn't come all the way up the hill.

But he did.

We ran down the other side as fast as we dared, risking a fall and broken limbs.

At the bottom, we dashed across a well lit road to the next hill, where we hoped to lose the potentially-armed drug dealer. With me in the lead, we plunged into the brush and comforting darkness at the foot of the next hill.

I was the first to emerge out of the bushes and into a gloomy clearing before the fence of a historic old Quaker cemetary that sprawled up the hillside. I stopped short and gaped at something ahead.

A shaft of streetlight broke through the foilage overhead and fell like a pale spotlight upon a tree stump just outside the graveyard fence. And sitting beside that stump, in left profile to us, half in shadow, with it's front paws resting on top of the stump, was what looked like a german shepard in that uncertain light.

What really freaked me out--aside from that we had stumbled upon a wild dog--was that the animal didn't react as you'd expect it to; when we came bursting out of the bushes, the dog didn't stiffen and jerk it's head towards us.

Instead, the dog's head turned in our direction with unnatural slowness and in a way that made me think of the deliberate arc of a security camera. I spun around, crashed through my startled friends and ran back the way I had come, heedless of any pissed-off gun-wielding drug dealer. My friends followed.

Fortunately for us, the dealer had given up the ghost (forgive my deliberate pun) and was nowhere to be found.

The dog didn't give chase, but we kept running until we were on the streets outside the park. Only then did we stop to talk about it. Apparently, only one of my friends had seen what I had seen. The other looked at us like we were crazy.

Years later, I would learn, from my research into the occult, that in Celtic mythology there were creatures called the Cu Sith or faery hound. Sightings of them were considerated ill omen of death.

Do I believe that what I saw that night was a Cu Sith?

I don't think so. And I doubt that, in the 80's at least, the NYC Parks department used security cameras in the form of robotic dogs. However, one of my friends from that night, the one who hadn't seen that eerie hound...he died about a few years later. He was said to have "shot himself in the head while fooling around with his pistol."

Monday, March 14, 2005

Superheroes in the NYC Subway

bat signal
Originally uploaded by vraven.

Once, while commuting on the NYC subway, I saw Batman.

Well, not the real crimefighter, but a homeless beggar who had made a crude batman costume out of soiled gray longjohns. He had a homemade bat symbol attached to his chest with a safety pin and a tattered dark blue vinyl cape. While he wore no mask, he had done up his dark kinky hair in two places like the points of Batman's cowl. All that was missing was the utility belt.

He was barefoot and dirty, but had a merry gleam in his eyes and a joker's grin on his lips.

"Spare change?" he asked, jingling coins in a coffee cup. "Robin crashed the batmobile so I need money to get it fixed."

I gave him some cash...he defintely earned my dollars.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Criminals Are a Cowardly Superstitious Lot...

When I lived in Brooklyn, sometime in the early 90's, I was the head of my neighborhood safety patrol. I had to report our activities to a detective at the 72 precinct. Our neighborhood's night time quietness made it an occassional target for car thieves and other low lives.

I tried to get the patrol volunteers to wear masks--bandanas over the mouth, like the old Wild West Outlaws--for two reasons: one, to protect us from any possible reprisals from those we busted, and two, being a Batman fan, I subscribed to his theory that it would spook the hell out of criminals.

One night, I finally got the patrol to agree to wear the masks. We were waiting in a dark alley of garages, near the street, for this guy to show up. He had been coming around just after midnight, pulling up at an apartment building and blaring his horn steadily for a few minutes. He was probably an angry ex-boyfriend or something. He was disturbing alot of folks and it was our intent to convince him not to do this anymore.

So, masked, we crouched in the shadowed alley and waited for him.

But he never showed.

However, a car stopped at the mouth of the alley and we saw a man and a women in the front seat. The passenger side door opened and out hopped a kid, maybe 16 or 17 years old. He was holding a screw driver. The car slowly drove off and waited further down the street. We crept up to the alley entrance and saw the kid crouch behind a parked car and go to work on the rear license plate. He had it off in seconds. Then he ran around to the front of the car and disappeared from view as he started on the front plate.

I readied my guys and we stepped out of the alley and into the middle of the street.

I called out to the kid, "Hey!"

The kid's head popped up over the car's front end and his eyes widened almost comically. From the kid's perspective, the street had been completely deserted only a moment ago and now 9 masked men had materialized out of nowhere.

He was so stunned and frightened that he didn't run, but only watched as we approached and surrounded him.

We snatched the license plate out of his hand and forced him to put it back on the car. As he did this, we roleplayed aloud, trying to decide if we should "kill him and bury him in the park, like the others"..."Nah, he's too young...we should give this stupid punk another chance at life", etc.

Then I leaned toward the kid and in my best Batman voice I said to him, "Take this shit to another neighborhood...we don't want it around here. You tell anyone you know that we'll be waiting for the next idiot to try this crap here and they'll never see us coming...just like you didn't see us. Now get the hell out of here."

"Thank you, sir," the kid said in a trembling voice and ran off down the street toward the idling car that had dropped him off. The car drove away.

Another night, my friend John and I were coming home when a neighbor ran up to us and said that four guys were looking in car windows and houses. John and I went to check it out and sure enough, we saw the four peering into a car.

It was winter and my friend John wore a long coat. I told him to act like he was concealing a shotgun or rifle beneath it. I kept my hand in my motocycle jacket, as if I were hiding a handgun. We followed the four like this and when they saw us, we deliberately stopped and purposedly did a bad job of trying to act like we weren't sneaking up on them.

I was counting on them thinking that since there was only two of us following the four of them, we must be packing.

And my bluff must've worked because they stopped their suspicious activity and headed out of the neighborhood, with us following as we were. The four saw a police car and actually flagged it down and reported us to the cops. The police drove over to us and I explained to the officers the situation and our strategy.

"That's a dangerous game you were playing, son," the officer said and advised us not to do that in the future, but that we should just call the police.

The neighborhood patrol didn't last very long. Those who volunteered mostly did so with visions of constant action and excitement...when the reality was long boring nights--freezing ones in the winter--and they soon grew bored and quit until only John and I patrolled the streets.

John's now a NYC police officer and doing well, I hear.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

A Cool Painting

A Bard
Originally uploaded by vraven.
Isn't the imagination a wonderful thing?

Free and limitless.

An Ex-nun, A Mafioso and My First Love

I fell in love, real love, for the very first time when I was 17.
Her name was Claire. She was blonde, blue-eyed and the adopted daughter of a Mafioso and his wife, a crazy ex-nun who had left the convent to marry a gangster. They couldn't have kids, so poor Claire, an abandoned baby, was taken into their life.

I knew about Claire's father before getting involved with her. I had met her while working together at Haagan-Dazs. When she first started, the shop's owner had taken the employees aside and advised us that the new girl's father was in the mob. Don't ask me why the owner had volunteered this information; we all could've done without it.

Back then, I was super-shy and absolutely incompetent when it came to dating. Hell, I couldn't even make the first move! But with Claire, I didn't need to; she did it all and we fell deeply in love.

Now, some of you Sopranos fans may be wondering if it was anything like what you see on the show.

It was...and it wasn't.

I mean, a lot of it was like your almost-perfect average high school romance; Claire was there for my first car, we gave each other our virginity, we went to the prom together, spent hours talking on the phone, etc.

But some of it was indeed like the Sopranos...especially the characters I encountered.

They had a social club (which looked something like the back office of the Bada-Bing) with a pool table, with pictures on the wall of Frank Sinatra and James Cagney in his famous ganster roles.

There was a fellow actually called Bugsy...a real fat man with a prosethetic leg. The local legend was that Bugsy could eat so much that, once, he had to be asked to leave an all-you-can-eat-buffet!

Then there was the time Claire and I and some of her girlfriends decided to try out a new club specifically for kids under 21. There was no alcohol served there, of course, but there was a DJ and a dance floor and that was all we needed. Oddly, just before we left Claire's house to go to this club, her mother warned that if we got into any trouble there was a bar just down the block from there that was "connected". She told Claire who to ask for and what to say.

Sure enough, trouble found us at the club. I guess it was because I was a guy with four lovely girls and I could dance pretty good and drew a lot of attention and some punks decided they just didn't like me. They cornered me and their leader tried to get me to go into the men's room with them (thus, out of sight) and I refused. Claire got in between us and I tried to get her out of the way...she didn't understand...I had to be able to see their hands (more of my dad's lessons). I wound up arguing more with her than with the leader of the punks. Just as I shoved Claire aside, the leader punched me in the face. Having studied martial arts most of my life, plus nearly having been beaten to death by a gang a couple of years before, I learned to take a pretty good I just laughed at the blow. I didn't hit leader back because I knew that the bouncers--who were quite friendly with the trouble-making punks--were looking for an excuse to throw me outside--where the rest of the gang was hanging out.

Claire decided to go to that bar her mom had told her about to get help from "the family", leaving me all alone in the club in a John Wayne situation. Along the way, Claire realized that she had been cut and was bleeding from her hand. She hadn't felt anything and so we later figured that one of the punks must've went to cut me with a razor and she got in the way.

She soon returned with some mean-looking wiseguys and I pointed out the trouble makers. Claire pointed to the leader and said, "He's the one that cut me."

One of the wiseguys told us to go to their bar and wait. We did. Eventually, we heard sirens and soon an ambulance pulled up to the club. They must've hurt the leader pretty bad.

A week or so later, I saw some of those punks at a high school dance. When they saw me, they stayed clear. That was a pretty good feeling.

Anyway, eventually, Claire's mother came to dislike me because I wanted to be writer and she felt that, should Claire and I marry, her daughter would be in the poor house. Her mother began to monitor our phone calls and limit our dating. She even refused to let Claire attend my graduation because she caught Claire smoking cigarettes. And then, one Saturday morning, Claire called to say that we couldn't see each other anymore because her mother was furious. She had found a book of Claire's matches and, because it had advertised a motel, the mother assumed that we had gone there to have sex.

Truth was, we had gone to a motel on Prom night.

I panicked. Not only was I losing Claire, but I was most likely a dead man. So, I got into my car and raced around Brooklyn, going to all the stores where Claire bought her cigarettes and asking for a book of matches.

Finally, I found the one with the motel advertised on it.

And you know where that goddamn motel was? Las Vegas, Nevada...all the way across the country from us and neither of us had ever been there! I quickly called Claire and asked her to have her mother look closely at the motel's address on the matchbook. Claire did. Her mother, now feeling quite foolish, allowed us to resume dating.

But it was only a matter of time for Claire and I. We had a big fight one night and the mother used that as an excuse to forbid me from seeing Claire, "because of the pain I had put her daughter through."

But I was a young fool madly in love and I wouldn't give up. Not even when her parents made death-threats against me. Finally, Claire told me she didn't want to see me ever again--probably to save my life.

And that just broke my heart. My first real broken heart.

One of Dad's Lessons.

For as long as I can remember, my father had always trained me to be a sort of warrior. He had come from a rough area of South Brooklyn back in the "50's", had been the leader of a local gang called the Gremlins, and was a black belt by the late 60's. He had always stressed the need to know how to defend oneself and how to spot trouble.

I remember once, when I was very young, my father had taken my little sister and I on an errand to the local deli. He went inside while my sister and I waited outside to play.

I don't remember how it started, just that some other little kid--a bully--was hitting my sister and dragging her around by her hair while I stood watching. My father came out of the deli, smacked me on the back of my head and said, "Hey...that's your sister, go protect her."

I did and beat the bully up. But the kid went and got his brother. The trouble was, the brother had a baseball bat and waved it menacingly at me.

My dad came out of the deli again and, instead of breaking up the confrontation, he squatted down beside me, looked me in the eyes and said, "Now, that's a bat. You've gotta be quick." And then he went back into the deli.

I don't remember what occured next, only that no fight happened and the bully, his brother and the bat left.

Kit Carson

Originally uploaded by vraven.
Something true and interesting I learned today:

The famed frontiersman, Kit Carson, once rode off with a band of Mexican cavalry to rescue a white woman who had been kidnapped by Apache raiders.

They caught up to the raiders, who fled but left the woman with an arrow through her heart. As Carson came upon the woman's body--not five minutes dead--he noticed that she clutched a novel--a rare thing in those days.

Scanning the pages, Kit Carson saw that the book was all about him and his "heroic adventures".

Since Carson had lived in the same area as the unfortunate woman, perhaps she had hoped that he'd come and save her.

This made his failure all the more painful...