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Since sophomore year in college, my friends and I have gotten together to celebrate Independence Day. During the college years, we went to the Farrell and Macneil camps in New Hampshire. For one reason or another (i.e. camps being sold), starting in 1991, we began to meet at my family's camp, Twin Trees. Twin Trees (affectionately called "Camp" by the family) is located in beautiful upstate New York, where the air is clean (due to frequent washing), the nights are crisp, and the bugs are legion. So, the first year we did this, people needed a map to find this blessed location. I quickly put one together, and the now-traditional Fourth of July Map-Invite was born. Below are the Invites from the beginning, for those who care to see how little artistic talent I have.

1991 - Fourth o' July Party
1992 - Fourth o' July Party (Nth Annual)

Behind all of the Twin Peaks puns and pictoral vignettes from occurrances of the time, I assure you, there is a map. I no longer have the original 1991 invite because I modified it to make the Nth annual one. Sprechen ze palimpsest? You can see what I added from 1991 to 1992 in blue. (I know what I added since it is in blue pen on the original photocopy.) Notice how the distance was changed from some apparently wrong value to a nonsensical one as well as the addition of the all-important telephone number which was lacking on the 1991 invite. These faulty bits of data caused some problems in '91.

1993 - Spam-Fest

The glorified stick-map no longer amused me so I generated a hopefully better map. This time, the map revolved around a You Are Here theme. Some people have asked what that thing is in the lower right: it is a boot. "El Booto Grande" is what it's labelled, but I think I put it there originally for the Das Boot connection. (Das Boot was the ill-fated inboard motorboat rv, Snuffy and I bought. The less said about that the better.)

1994 - Goggle Hunt

We had just gotten a huge clip-art library in where I was working. (I think it came as part of the Corel Shovelware.) Anyway, I thought the art was tragic, but I was fascinated by the index to the clip art. All of these pictures were shown in thumbnail form, all the same size. They also had these stange names under them; it was as if the index was a huge pictoral dictionary of items found on planet Earth. The title "Goggle Hunt" occurred to me (originating, I believe, with Beer Goggles) and the rest flowed from my adroit scissors and transparent tape. Fundamentally, the map itself is unchanged from the 1993 map. I learned after the first year to make each element separate, copy them, and then tape bits of the copies together to make the invite. I can then reuse the items in future invites. I particularly like the esctatic woman wearing the surreal pretzel-goggles I fashioned.

1995 - Seance

Fnord. I had been reading a number of Masonic, Babylonian, Assyrian, and Illuminati-type things around this time. This sort of led to the idea of having Cthulu invite everyone. I figured that you wouldn't be able to turn down an invitation from an Elder God. I made a great big list of odd, conspiratorial, illuminatus-like quotes and spent a few hours finding just the right font for each one. Note, at this point, that art provided by my own hand had more or less been completely replaced by a harmonious arrangement of clipped items. A complete invite is often completely covered with transparent tape from all of the bits I put together. The map was inspired by my recent job change. I was working at MapInfo, which does a lot of mapping stuff. So, this is the first accurate map to Twin Trees. This is also the first time the written directions make an appearance. No, I have no idea where "Oliver Cromwell... is Mary Stuart Masterson" came from. It just showed up in the list of quotes. You decide what nefarious, ineffable forces placed it there.

1996 - Freak Show

This year's theme was actually suggested by the font I used. I was diddling around and chose the poster/wild west/blocky font you see and I knew what the theme was to be. At this point, MapInfo had a T1 connection and now I had the whole Internet to find interesting pictures. And so I did. For those not in the know, the taboo ceremony with five rules refers to a game called Cosmic Encounter (which had previously and continues to claim many, many hours of our lives). The 1995 map didn't photocopy very well, so I knew I needed a new one. In addition, we have contingents which live in Ohio and Broadalbin. So, I made a new map by roughly tracing the major roads from a Rand-McNally atlas. The written directions are fundamentally the same, and the quotes seemed appropriate. The wedding referred to was Eric and Jess Dehaemer's.

1997 - Return of the Enchanted Tiki

Originally planned as the "Enchanted Tiki Cruise", 1997 became the "Return of the Enchanted Tiki". I was having a hard time coming up with something interesting to put on the invite for a "Cruise", maybe because I though an Actual Group Enchanted Tiki Cruise would be cool. Anyway, research on Tiki and the like found that Tiki were representative of many gods. So, I decided to come up with a wealth of Tiki for the set of gods we seemed to be in contact with. In addition, I created the new official ambassador and host of Fourth of July: Muan-Hotep. Upon arriving at Twin Trees I found that my family had created a couple of big standing Tiki for ambiance. Fundamentally, the map was a duplicate of the 1996 map. This year, I renumbered the Fourth of Julys. You see, I had started with merely "The Fourth of July Party." The next year was the "Nth Annual." The year after that was the "N+1st Annual." Makes sense, right? Unfortunately, our group had actually gotten together for Fourth previous to that. So, actually, the first one at Twin Trees was the Nth annual.

1998 - Pirate Jamboree

Arrr, pirates and their kin have often been invoked during our gatherings, so I decided to officially celebrate them with a Pirate Jamboree. The thought of a "Pirate Jamboree" was very funny to me at the time. Boy Scouts have Jamborees. Pirates have Keelhauling. Pirates having a Jamboree sounded so... festive. The Internet came to the rescue again, providing me an appropriate image of sedentary pirates partying it up on the beach and a number of pirate flags. A gimmick this year was supposed to be a little pirate flag to fly on your car antenna. I had looked up all of the flags you see and was going to make a couple of each. Then everyone could look up what pirate they were supposed to be, etc. Well, although I figured out how to make the flags (cutting them from them bottom of a black T-shirt yields a ready-made pocket for the antenna) I didn't have enough time to make them. Alas! The map is meant to look like a treasure map, and took me longer to draw than I will admit. It is based on the 1996 map. Muon-Hotep makes his second appearance as one of the Pirates who has a flag.

1999 - Space: 1999 Lunar Blowout

1999 was the first web invitation. It allowed me to do an actual narrative of sorts revolving around a Space: 1999 theme. Actually, the Space: 1999 part was meant as a sort of amusing surprise. The narrative has all of these heady, powerful, pompous thoughts which end up suddenly going awry and ending up at the Space: 1999 Lunar Blowout. September 13th was the (fictional) day when Moonbase Alpha left on its trip, but we moved the timetable up a bit for the party.

2000 - Mad Tea Party

A literary theme this year, initially suggested by my sister, Sarah. The more I thought about it, the more I liked it: Alice in Wonderland, silly hats (Mad Hatter), Boston Tea Party, and, best of all, the chance to drink shots out of tiny teacups. It seemed so... proper.

2001 - Camp of the Creeping Horror

I've always liked B-grade horror and sci-fi movies, and this year I figured that Twin Trees would be the ideal location for one. Thus the invite took the form of a diminuative movie poster hawking the Camp of the Creeping Horror. I tried yet another method for making the invite this time: a drawing program. It may be hard to believe, but the movie art came from my hand. It came out a lot better than I thought it would. Camp's spooky angularities emphasized by forced perspective and the most evil possible twin trees to the side. The image was supposed to bleed off the edge, but the printer couldn't do that.

2003 - I Want YOU To Be a HERO

So, I wanted to call on everyone to find their inner hero and come to the 2003 event. I immediately thought of the famous Uncle Sam "I want YOU" poster. Statesman's red, white, and blue costume and position as defacto spokesman for heros made him perfect for the poster and for Fourth of July.
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