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Spock Mountain Research Labs: A Short Primer
1999-08-27 14:56:21

Burning Man Nonsense
i don't want challenge, i want DEBIAN
-- elise


SMRL will be making another appearance at Burning Man next week. For the uninitiated, the question is: who are these guys?

Who is SMRL?

Founded in 1989 by a rogue splinter offshoot of the notorious TELEfriend Gang, Spock Mountain Research Laboratories has flourished under the harsh light of recent media attention. Easily identifiable from long distances by their distinctive hats and white labcoats, the SMRL scientists have trekked back and forth across the country promoting the twin causes of Spock and Beer, and their resulting condition: Bad Crazyness. While an SMRL technician may indeed be spotted at any event capable of drawing sizable crowds, they are perhaps most often encountered in their natural environment: the smoky confines of a cheap dive bar suits the SMRL man best. Accompanied at all times by faithful monkey robots, it is best advised to approach the SMRL agent in the field with the utmost caution. There exist reports - unproven - of strangers being forced to climb ladders or suffering the indignities of a sudden punch to the gut simply for behaving in some way the SMRL operatives found provocative. Little is currently known as to what motivates the SMRL to such unnecessary acts of hostility, so caution is strongly advised at all times.

The Labs

When the SMRL Team is away from its fortress-like compound nestled deep in the foothills of the mysterious Spock Mountain Range, a mobile lab is utilized for the purpose of conducting beverage science research on the go.  This state-of-the-art travelling laboratory contains over $1.5 million worth of highly specialized analysis equipment, a portable sensory enhancement tank constructed from graphite and powered by a miniature nuclear generator, and an experimental matter replicator, as well as 40 pounds of chili and enough space to store over two dozen labcoats. Designed to the exacting specifications of SMRL Founder Jed Sanders, the Mobile Lab Unit (MLU) also features a tin roof and a high-tech spittoon.  The MLU can be set up onsite in less than three hours, and its power cycled to fully operational status in mere seconds. A cache of deadly "critter" robots provides security for technicians at the worksite, while a highly motivated staff of SMRL security technicians provdes an additional level of safety.

Although details are sketchy at the present time, sources deep within SMRL claim that future onsite installations will feature an advanced "Spring Loaded Rocketry" module, as well as a "big barrel filled with water that you can dunk your head in while you try to catch a frog in your mouth."

What Kind of Research Do They Do?

This is one of the enduring mysteries of the SMRL enigma. Unconfirmed reports of shrieking and moaning noises amidst the din of clattering steel objects deep within the bowels of SMRL have surfaced, but no one seems to be able to find out exactly what sorts of research is being performed, or what ultimate aims Team SMRL have in mind, and no one in a position to know these things is doing any talking.  Ask an SMRL scientist what he is working on, and you will likely get as many different answers as you have scientists you ask questions.  A glimmer of clarity emerged at last year's Burning Man Festival when SMRL representatives distributed a strange alcoholic drink called "Spocktail 1.0".  This mysterious liquid reputedly caused convulsions and lack of critical thinking in many individuals who consumed it, but no official complaints were ever filed against SMRL for their activities.

An earlier report suggests that much of SMRL's work revolves around the idea of a "huntin' dog daterbase" that was pioneered by Dr. Sanders at his ranch in the Ozarks, but since this product, too, remains hidden from public view, an observer can but speculate.  Is it possible, as some have suggested, that SMRL is actually doing research into the existence of an extraterrestrial "Star Chile"?  Or is it more likely that the public face of SMRL as happy-go-lucky "Purveyors of Fine Beverages" is closer to the truth? Anyone who has heard the inhuman screams issuing from Compound Six at SMRL Headquarters might be inclined to disagree with the "Weird, but Harmless" theory.

No, Really, Who Are These Guys?

Despite the best efforts of today's most dedicated truth-seekers, this question remains sadly unanswered.  Some speak of a "Mr. Bad," who appears to be a public spokesman of sorts; other tell tales of a strange, frenetic, primate-like man known only as "El Snatcher": if rumors are to be believed, this man is a responsible for technological innovation at SMRL at the highest levels, and has possibly authorized many or most of the brutal experiments which perplex and disturb onlookers all over the world.  Another tale persists of an entity known only as the "Ogre Juggernaut," supposedly a huge, domesticated beast who appears mysteriously at various SMRL functions and just as mysteriously fades into darkness.

The truth is, we may never know exactly who these men and women actually are.  The SMRL places its utmost priority on secrecy and intrigue, and such information simply may not be forthcoming.

What Are They Building Out There?

Currently, SMRL operatives have been seen busily preparing for an appearance at this year's Burning Man event in the remote Nevada desert.  Little details have been forthcoming, but BM attendees can certainly expect to encounter the SMRL Mobile Lab Unit in action, and it would not be surprising to witness strange colors and flashing images coming from inside the unit at all hours of the day and night.  Expect Spocktails to pour freely, as well as huge vats of chili, but beware of the vicious robot helpers which always accompany the SMRL scientists.  It's also been suggested that, though they may look like a "bunch of hillbillies," SMRL personnel are highly trained in subterfuge and disorientation; one "survivor" insists that the SMRL always travels with one or several extremely efficient and remorseless Psi-Ops agents.  Be on the lookout at all times around these individuals: they are not what they appear to be.

What Kind of Cars Do They Drive?

Boss cars.

See you on the playa...

Over.  End of Story.  Go home now.

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