The assassin drops to the floor and strikes swiftly. Any weapon would be detected coming into the hospital, so he pulls the pillow out from under the target’s head and slams it onto his face as he awakens. The old man flails, but after a minute… uh…
…he keeps flailing.
Die! Why won’t you…
The door opens. Guards pour in with tasers and the assassin jerks once, twice, falls. How did the target hold his breath so long?
The old man leans into view, chuckling: “Porous foam core. Breathe right through it. Hey, asshole: Do your research.”
For consideration: "You must honor and respect the older fellow / Even as you suffocate him with a pillow / Though you're strong / He. Was. Wise."
Macabre Swiss artist
Bursts from Earth's chest and gets loose
in Heaven's airshafts.
For consideration: now frolicking with dancing syringes among the penis landscape
“Sorry, babe. She’s more what I need. Long-term, I mean.”
He knows he sounds like a dick, dumping me for her, but he doesn’t care enough to be nice about it.
“It’s not like I was ever going to introduce you to my family, right?”
What he doesn’t know is, I set them up together. She stays married just long enough to strip the estate off him in the divorce. I get ten percent afterwards, and don’t have to put up with fucking him in the meantime.
And I have seven other new-money douchebags just like him in the pipeline.
For consideration: "Did he put your million dollar check / In someone else's box?"
This was a three-player game on the evening of Thursday, January 9th 2014 using the "Clockblockers" playset by Rob Wieland.
During setup, some initial randomness is used to generate the elements that will be used in the game. We needed three Relationships and one each of a Location, an Object, and a Need. We ended up with:
Relationship: Noble ancestor & scummy descendant
- Needs: To get rich replacing historical person
Relationship: Work, Old maintenance hand and new recruit
- Object: Excalibur
Relationship: The one person who remembers you from the original timeline
- Location: The end of the world
Our three characters became:
Klaus Streichland, 8th generation Swiss watchmaker, who works at the Time Travel Museum in their Artifacts department. He bears a KronoTraveler 2000 that was built by his “father’s son’s father”. It has a floating tourbillon and a perpetual calendar. Klaus’ uniform looks like a 19th Century train conductor; his KT2K resembles a vest pocketwatch on a chain. One of his jobs is to travel back to “borrow” key historical artifacts, bring them to the Museum where they are displayed for some set window of space-time so that TTers can come see it, then return it to its native place-time microseconds after it was taken. If you ask Klaus when he started his time-travel career, he says “early this morning”.
Leonardo DaVinci, literally the Renaissance Man. As a young man, he accidentally ended up having a time travel experience involving Klaus (early in Klaus’ “morning”) and learned way more about time travel than he was supposed to. This has haunted him for twenty-five years, driving all his art and math and science experimentation as he tries to recreate what he once witnessed. Then, years later, now a man of 50 instead of 25, Klaus reappears to him and extends him an invitation: Partner with him as a new recruit of the Time Museum, under a non-disclosure and confidentiality agreement with appropriate damage and liability waivers etc. etc. Leonardo ignores all the bureaucratic details; all he cares is that he will have another chance to figure out how time travel works. He says YES.
Joey “Da Schlong” DaVinci, twenty-year-old Italian-American denizen of New Jersey and direct but distant descendant of Leonardi. He wears leather wristbands - one with the Lamborghini bull, the other the Ferrari stallion; he calls his biceps “The Barnyard”. Wears a t-shirt with a picture of himself lifting up his t-shirt to show off his abs. He routinely lifts up this t-shirt to show that his abs are even better now than in the picture. He works at the boardwalk t-shirt shop that made the shirt. But, more importantly, in that t-shirt shop’s lost & found, he discovered a misplaced time-tourist’s kronotraveler. Whoa, a clock on a gold chain? Hell yeah he’s going to put it around his neck with his other chains!
As part of Setup, Klaus showed up at the Jersey boardwalk (with his previous partner) to rescue the stranded tourist and recover their lost KT. But one thing about Klaus, it turns out, is that he can’t help but talk in very precise terms about time-travel equipment (he just loves it so much). Thus, in the process of telling Joey what he MUST NOT DO in order to avoid TRAVELING THROUGH TIME, he effectively tells Joey the precise steps that will activate the KT. So, of course, Joey does that and vanishes into time. The moment he does, clearly something got horribly changed, because the Jersey Shore begins to fracture and melt. The stranded tourist and Klaus’ partner are consumed by entropy; Klaus only barely gets away. But now he’s going to need a new partner. Since he already needs to approach Leonardo about getting disclosed for time travel, he decides he’s going to recruit him as well, killing two birds with one stone. But, perhaps flustered by his near-miss with Joey and the collapsed Jersey Shore timeline, or perhaps because of slight damage to his KT2K, he arrives late and meets up with 50-year-old Leonardo, not 25-year-old Leo. Still, gotta go with what you got.
As soon as he becomes a time traveler, Joey remembers all those T&A historical dramas on, like, Showtime and stuff - you know, Tudors and Borgias and Rome and Game of Thrones, right? Joey decides he’s going to go back in time and become a sexy famous King or Emperor or maybe even a Pope. How’s about them apples, eh, ma?
During the Scenes, players take turns opening scenes for themselves and each other, and in each case, it is eventually decided whether the Scene will go "well" or "badly" for the character. That is, at the end of scene, is the character's situation better or worse than before? By the end of the game, each character has a total of four scenes in which they are centrally involved, in which the outcome is primarily focused on them.
Scene 1: “Now THERE’S something you don’t see every day!” (goes badly for Leonardo)
Klaus is going to take Leonardo on a cakewalk introductory mission. They’re going to go retrieve (“fish”) Excalibur for a scheduled exhibit time at the Museum.
(“Why Excalibur?” “Because it’s next on the list.” “What order is the list in?” “In the order we need to retrieve things.” “Alphabetical?” “No.” “Difficulty?” “No.” “Who makes the list?” “The Museum does.” “How does it decide what order the list should be in?” “The list should be in the order that we need to retrieve things.” Classic Italian vs Swiss dialogue between Leonardo and Klaus.)
The plan is to borrow Excalibur while it’s still stuck in the stone in the church courtyard, but something is off (again) with Klaus’ KT2K and they arrive ten years too late - Arthur has already drawn the sword and is king and all that. So they tromp over to Arthur’s castle (well, wooden fort - this is like the 6th Century AD after all) and hope to filch it from its scabbard. Along the way, one thing we learn is that Klaus’s watch has a ten minute refractory period after being used, before it can be used again.
Unfortunately, when they arrive at the fort, Arthur is already running around the place with the sword out, swinging it like crazy, in a terrible rage. It seems a strangely-dressed man appeared out of nowhere and, shortly after, began fornicating with his wife, the Queen Guenivere. Cue the appearance of Joey DaVinci, pulling his pants up as he runs for a window. Arthur narrowly misses cutting him in half; then he wheels around and sees TWO MORE STRANGELY DRESSED MEN OUTTA NOWHERE. More demon seducers! Before they can say a word, Arthur runs Leonardo through the stomach with Excalibur, fully stuck through him. Hey! They have the sword! Klaus, thinking quickly and efficiently, reactivates his KT2K and he, Leonardo, and the impaled sword all vanish.
Unfortunately, the sword has to be put on display almost immediately and they don’t dare take it out of Leonardo because otherwise he might bleed all over the museum and perhaps die of blood loss so, you know, the best thing to do is just leave the sword in him while it’s on display. That’s right, it’s a 2-for-1 bonus event at the museum: A famous historical figure and a famous historical artifact together in a single exhibit! It proves monumentally successful, as time travelers flock from all over human history to see this famous man run through with this famous sword. Klaus might even get a huge promotion for such a clever and exciting idea! Leo, on the other hand, is already having second thoughts about the wisdom of this new career, and thinking about how he can get the time-travel device without needing the time-traveling companion.
Once the exhibit ends, the doctors check out Leonardo and confirm he’ll survive just fine for quite a while after the sword is withdrawn. Klaus blips them back to where the came from, in front of the angry Arthur, who draws Excalibur back out of the Leonardo without even realizing they’d been gone. Then Klaus and Leo engage in slapstick as they flee, just like Joey did, and have to stay ahead of Arthur for ten minutes until the KT2K resets. It’s a close call.
Scene 2: “Hey baby, you got some Italian in you? Would you like some?” (goes badly for Klaus)
This is the second time Klaus’ morning has been ruined by Joey. He decides to get pro-active and hunt Joey down, to take the Tourist KT back by force if necessary. Leonardo is armed with a Time-Taser and they use a tracking device to get a lock on Joey’s TKT, which is “currently” in Ancient Troy. (Whatever “currently” means here.)
When they arrive on-target, well, sure enough, wouldn’t you know it - Joey’s already going at it with Helen. “STOP OR WE’LL SHOOT!” shouts Klaus, and then tells Leonardo to shoot him. But the Time-Taser hits Joey’s Tourist Kronotraveler, it goes all fritztastic, and both he and Helen vanish from sight - just as Hector and the Trojan guards burst in to find Helen missing and two strangers instead. Not again! The refractory period being what it is, Klaus and Leonardo flee once more, through the tangled and confusing streets of Troy. The guards are hemming them in on this side, then that side - there’s only one avenue left for them to escape. Of course. They rush to the main gates of the city, throw the lever that lifts the bar and the gates swing wide open. Outside, of course, ten thousand well-armed Greeks look up from their campfires with sudden interest. They charge toward the now-open city. The Trojan militia alarm goes up. Both sides close on each other with Klaus and Leo in the middle - BLIP! The refractory period ends and they return to the Museum safely, but just barely.
There is a message waiting for Klaus from the Museum’s management. They’ve begun to become aware of the trouble his day has been causing - a random schmuck running around with a stolen KT, a tourist and a museum employee both potentially lost forever, a new divergent timestream where Troy was sacked way too early… what’s going on? Klaus, you’d better get this situation under control.
Scene 3: “ENGLISH! DO YOU SPEAK IT???” (goes well for Joey)
Cut back to Joey right after his original blip-out from the Jersey Shore with the Tourist Kronotraveler, before Guinevere and Helen and all that. After a couple of entirely random misadventures, he starts to get a feel for how to use the device but more importantly, he realizes he has no idea when any of those HBO historical dramas actually happened. Like, what year was the Borgias? No idea. That means Joey needs to find a library and learn up on this stuff. Fortunately, the TKT has a set of bookmarks for quick-reference travel and one of them is the Library of Alexandria. Joey goes there only to find, disappointingly, that it’s nothing but papyrus scrolls in long-dead languages staffed by only dudes who also speak only long-dead languages. No luck. It’s looking like a total bust but then Joey bumps into a nice older couple from Brooklyn - they have a timeshare in a luxury kronotraveler (whatever “timeshare” means in this case!) and are taking their around-the-world-history cruise with it. Joey seems like a nice young man (he puts on his talking-to-grandma face) so they show him how to really work the controls on his KT, recommend some good spacetime coordinates for far-future libraries that he will be able to actually use (“Wikimedia VI at Canopus B is really quite complete by about 2250.”), and lend him their spare copy of Lonely Planet’s Space-Time Guide (aka Chronotravel For Dummies) with built-in translator system. Suddenly, Joey is semi-competent to get started as a time-traveler - hence, his ability not long after to start dialing in exact historical times to chase the ladies.
Scene 4: “Pulling the Aggro Train” (goes well for Joey)
Immediately post-Helen, with her still along, Joey’s Tourist Kronotraveler (the TKT) is in trouble, sparking and freaking out from its Time-Taser damage. He and Helen flip through dozens, perhaps hundreds, of times in rapid succession, mere moments each, until finally his TKT goes into some sort of alert lockdown mode countdown and suddenly returns the two of them to the Museum. (In hindsight, I think this TKT must have been issued to the now-lost tourist by the Museum as a rental.) But as soon as he arrives in the Museum, objects and animals from all those numerous times he blipped through also show up - everything from little Egyptian scarab beetles to robots to velociraptors to, man, whatever. A huge chaotic mess erupts in the Museum - coincidentally, during the display of Excalibur-through-Leonardo. The TKT is still blaring an alarm and Museum guards are closing in on its sound amidst all the insanity, but Joey thinks quick - DaVinci’s are good with the sleight of hand, you see, so he quickly switches his dying TKT for some fully functional one off some random Museum patron caught up in the disaster. He and Helen then blip out, safely arriving at a Super-Dubai Space Elevator Hotel high above the Future Earth, in a comfortable suite that’s snowing flakes of gold and the sun is just breaking over the horizon. That’s the way we do it! Joey pulls Helen close - it’s you and me, baby, you’re the gal for me! (For now.)
Scene 5: “It Takes A Montage” (goes well for Leonardo)
Leonardo wants to go back to the origin of these kronotravelers, these portable time devices, and build one from first principles for himself so he no longer needs to hang around with Klaus and work for the Museum and such. So in a moment of distraction for Klaus (there have been many), Leonardo lifts the KT2K off him - we just pointed out that the DaVinci family line is adept at the sleight of hand, did we not? - and blips backward through time until he finds Klaus’ ancestor who built the first such unit - in fact, it turns out Leonardo learns about time travel while helping that elder Streichland perfect his first device, and so we have something of a paradox as the invention of the first time device is really only possible with the assistance of someone using a later generation of the time device… And then after having helped crack the problem in the first place with his superior inventor’s skills, Leonardo then bounces around time a bit to find the optimal places and times to forge all the components of his own, even better one - the DaVinci 1 Kronotraveler 3000. Better accuracy, smaller, lighter, and best of all - nearly no refractory period. This is truly his masterpiece. As soon as he has his own time piece, Leo blips back to Klaus’ side, slips the KT2K back into his vest, and throws a disarming smile. Now, whenever he feels like it, he’ll be able to blow this pop stand.
Scene 6: “You can make me do it, but you can’t make me care about it.” (goes badly for Klaus)
The management of the Museum calls Klaus in and gives him a stern talking to. The Museum is a mess of velociraptors and whatnot on the loose and this Joey DaVinci punk is fully amok now, spawning divergent timelines one after another that are turning out to result in the end of the human race. Klaus is given direct orders to get it cleaned up or face… unpleasant consequences. They’ve located Joey’s newly stolen KT finally, in an end of the world timeline fork where he’s conquered the world, had all the other men on Earth executed, and now rules over nothing but women of various ages from a mountain super-fortress. It doesn’t matter “when” or “where” or “how” this happened, just go there, Klaus, and eliminate him.
But it doesn’t go so well. Klaus and Leo are set upon by Joey’s Amazonian Guards and dragged before him to be executed. It is decided that the two intruders shall be made to fight each other to death after dinner. They are dragged away to sex-dungeon holding cells for the time being. Joey also makes sure Klaus’ KronoTraveler 2000 is seized. He doesn’t know, of course, that Leo also has one and the moment he’s thrown in the cell, Leo blips out - leaving Klaus, who he always intended to ditch as soon as he could.
As we reach the halfway point of the game, it looks like Joey has won: he has made himself the most powerful and important man on Earth (perhaps several Earths, if the other end-of-world timelines are similar conquering type situations) while his biggest threat is currently hanging from fur-lined cuffs on a leather wall somewhere downstairs.
During the Tilt, another round of randomness is used to select two factors at the halfway point which now come into play to change the situation and throw whatever is going on out of balance (or even further out of balance). As we've been playing Fiasco these past couple of years, we've generally felt like the Tilt works better if you get right to them as their own little mini-scenes, which are cooperatively constructed by all the players, rather than trying to make sure they somehow end up in one of the players' own scenes in the second half. Also, our Tilt mini-scenes often involve, center on, or even exclusively are about an NPC that has come along in the first half. It worked beautifully this time - at the mid-point of the game, Joey had effectively won, he had sort of fulfilled his Need. He was, by default, the richest, most powerful, most famous man in the world he inhabited, and the only person he really had to worry about as a threat - the Museum official who was the only person who really knew who he was, where he came from, how he got here - was his captive. And then, we rolled for our Tilt elements... and suddenly, there was everything we needed to turn the tables, literally start the flipping-over of the power struggle.
“Someone is watching, waiting for their moment.”
Suddenly, we realize that, in fact, it is Helen who suggested that the two intruders be made to fight to the death after dinner, instead of simply being executed on the spot. It is Helen who makes sure Klaus’ KT2K is taken from him - and that it is handed to her, not to Joey. She casually slips it into her own pocket as she pours the already-pretty-drunk Joey another glass of wine. He blacks out and in the morning can’t even remember that he didn’t watch his enemies die. Helen - who has been a virtual hostage of Joey’s for countless ages, since he wore the time device and she did not. Helen - who has had to endure Joey’s loutishness in a hundred different ways on a hundred different timelines. Helen - who put up with his stupidity and abusiveness and cheating and all the other horrible stuff for as long as she has because she’s known, all along, that at some point she’d get her hands on one of these time devices herself, and then… well, then she’d have a thing or two to take care of. And now… now is finally that time.
“A stupid plan, executed to perfection.”
Some of Joey’s Amazonians decide to ferret Klaus away to a secret village where - being the only man on the Earth other than Joey Da Vinci - they want to use him to provide, uh, well, baby-making material. But Klaus takes no pleasure in it; he is solely, ruthlessly focused on building a new KronoTraveler and hunting down Joey and eradicating him at the earliest timeline point possible. His time with the Amazonians affords him the opportunity to eventually, over months, build a very crude preliminary system. He might also have saved the human race in this timeline, if there are enough viable male fetuses, but that’s entirely inconsequential to him. He finally has enough of a device to get him started - he uses it to escape, to jump to a few other basic spacetime locales where he can have a montage much like Leonardo’s, iterating on his design, working through improvements, replacing one prototype with another, each one better than the last, moving back and forth through time (and through his own family history!) until we see at last that it is, in fact, Klaus himself who finishes that very first KronoTraveler acting as his own first-generation distant ancestor - and working unrecognized by Leonardo in the previous montage!
Scene 7: “Me and My Best Friends. Who Are Also Me.” (goes badly for Leonardo)
DaVinci the Elder, having freed himself from both Klaus and the limits of space-time, goes on a tear through the years collecting more copies of himself from all phases of his own life, in order to build a research team that can push the boundaries of what is possible in time travel. They build a lab, do math, assemble experiments, and are working toward some truly magnificent breakthroughs - but suddenly, one day, one of the Leonardos vanishes. Just…. POOF! Then, not long after, a second one. And a third. The remaining Leonardos are trying to figure out what’s happened, what’s going on - and quickly they come to the terrible conclusion that their own experimentation is damaging the fabric of space time! They need to, I dunno, fix it. Come up with a patch. Develop some workarounds. They redouble their research efforts, but now they are focused on understanding how they can continue to push the limits of time travel without the rest of space-time unraveling. Will it work? It looks like they might have a solution! … But as soon as they come to this conclusion, a huge portal opens in their lab and a bunch of power-armored goons with energy weapons step through and just completely vaporize, or disintegrate, or de-rezz, or chrono-revert, every Leonardo except for one. “No,” they tell him. Then they stun his brain, take his DV1-KT3K, destroy his lab, and return him to his original life in 1502 with nothing, not even his memory of what he had seen and done. Or did they…? As all his other time-travel knowledge fades away, stunned out of his mind, he sees a strange emblem on these strange people’s power armor, and he focuses on it, commits it more fully to memory than anything else. And as he wakes back up in Renaissance, everything feels like a fading dream… but that symbol is crystal clear.
Scene 8: “The volcano’s still months away. What could go wrong?” (goes badly for Joey)
Somewhere in the tangled mess of criss-crossing timelines that Joey has left in his wake, a pre-Helen post-Library Joey is drunk in Pompeii. He’s done his reading up and knows he has plenty of time before the volcano erupts; he’s just here to carouse and debauch in one of history’s legendary resorts. He’s staggering around, completely ruined on whatever passes for wine in 70AD, his famous fitness visibly going to hell - his six-pack abs are more like a cardboard case of juice boxes, he’s slow and paunchy and just completely blitzed, staggering around a back alley vomiting periodically.
Suddenly, another Joey appears out of nowhere - BLIP. This second Joey is slightly but visibly older, back into some kind of better physical condition, but haggard, with some visible scars, frantic, unshaven, afraid. He grabs fat-drunk Joey, pulls him off to the side, tries to slap him into coherence. “Joey! Listen! You have to stay away from Helen, do you hear me? It’s Helen, that’s the mistake you have not NOT MAKE, do you understand? Don’t go after Helen! Dammit, you stupid asshole, can you even hear me?”
Then another time portal opens nearby and Haggard Joey freaks out and flees back into his own Kronotraveler, because that new time portal means Helen has arrived. Helen steps out to find the drunken Joey, a Joey who has not yet even met her. “Whoa,” drunk Joey says, falling back onto the only pickup line he knows: “Do you have some Italian in you? Would you like some?” Helen puts her arm around him, soothingly guides (leads, escorts, captures) him back to her own time portal while lifting his own KT off him, leaving him as time-stranded-dependent on her as he made her on him all those years. She gives him something to drink, he finishes passing all the way out… and when he awakens, he is in some kind of open pastoral landscape. He starts to look around when he hears a hunting horn. A squad of Amazonian-style huntresses - all of them women he has been bad to on one alternate timeline or another - bear down on him on horseback, wound him mildly with arrows and sticks, but leave him alive to flee. He runs, tumbles down a hillside into a river, looks up… and sees another Joey, another him plucked from some other space-time, running across a field being pursued by more women on horses.
Helen has built an army of warrior-women somehow, and they are systematically collecting as many Joeys as they can from across all of space-time, capturing them and bringing them to this place to be cruelly toyed with for sport.
Scene 9: “I’ll go, but you still can’t make me care.” (goes well for Klaus)
Klaus has effectively been disassociated from the Museum. They can track his “original” Kronotraveler 2000 - which Helen is “now” using, having pocketed it - but not his “new” one that he built as his own ancestor with Leonardo’s assistance, even though technically the “new” one is eventually going to be handed down through the generations to become the “original” one. (This is all still making sense, right? It was crystal clear during the game itself.) So anyway, Klaus spends a while just sort of staying out of sight, laying low in innocuous times and places in history, trying to decide what he’s going to do next. One day, while he’s hiding out in the Soviet Union of 1981, walking across Red Square, he is approached by two Red Army soldiers. When they draw close, they address him in flawless Swiss German and he realizes they are women. They are, in fact, members of Helen’s Neo-Amazonian force. Helen has gotten quite good at this whole time travel thing and successfully located Klaus to make him an offer: Return to the Museum, which Helen has now somehow managed to take control of. Be her direct-report lieutenant specifically charged with hunting down the last few, wiliest, most evasive Joeys that are still running around space-time. To aid in this, he’ll be equipped with the best, greatest, most insane equipment he wants and given carte-blanche license to do whatever he must in the space-time continuum to get all of Joey.
Scene 10: “We need your special math. Your… dare I say?… DaVinci Code.” (goes well for Leonardo)
Leonardo, his memory in tatters, tries to reassert himself in the life he led before all of this time travel madness but it won’t let go. The faint, dreamlike memories and the crystal clear recollection of that one mysterious symbol haunt him… until one day, he stumbles across a packet of documentation. Diagrams, journal entries, sketches - a bundle of information about time travel that he must have just set aside at one point during his montage sequence, not a lot to go on but enough to make him realize that his dreams were real, it really happened. He begins plans for rebuilding a new chronotraveler but there’s still technical know-how he lacks. He remembers that there is a man in Venice, a maker of automata and contraptions, who might be able to help him execute his designs.
When he gets to Venice, he finds the man’s workshop… and sees, perhaps not with much surprise, the mysterious emblem on the sign hanging outside. But he feels compelled to go forward with his plans. He hands over all that he has reconstructed so far to the contraptions man, who looks it over and nods. “Indeed, this is just what we needed,” he says. Suddenly, Leonardo realizes it is not a new time travel system he has been designing, it is something much more powerful - when the strange armored men zapped his mind, they implanted within him a psychological program to solve a very difficult space-time problem for them, one they could not solve themselves. The bundle of documentation, all of it, was simply material planted to help him execute the program they had loaded into him. Now he has completed that work and they are ready to enact it: a complete reboot of time, unlocked and seeded with DaVinci’s own mathematical breakthroughs. The workshop folds away, portal-like, to reveal a magnificent Time Command Center. More of the armored men approach, but this time they escort Leonardo as an honored guest rather than drag him as a prisoner. Together, they will all remake the universe in DaVinci’s artistic vision. They will undo all these other terrible spacetime errors that have been made.
All they need to do is put DaVinci’s completed vision into actual motion.
Scene 11: “Nobody escapes the Garden.” (goes badly for Joey)
Haggard Joey is fleeing further and further back in time. If he tries to go forward in time, Helen’s Neo-Amazonians are all over him like glue. But if he goes back, they go easier on him. There aren’t any other Joeys that he knows of that he can find to try and warn. He’s checked them all. All he can do now is go back in time, and then when Helen’s forces show up, escape them by going even further back. He has gone back to the earliest ancient times… the Bronze Age… then further, through the Neolithic, earlier than civilization, earlier than written language, earlier than spoken language, earlier than true human beings… A hundred thousand years? A million? He’s lost track. He just keeps going further back each time Helen shows up. Until, one time, he lands in a place and time that is just beautiful wilderness… and time passes, and no Helen shows up. Did he finally lose her? He wanders this pristine land, unwilling to let himself believe that maybe he’s really escaped to somewhere… some WHEN… that is safe.
And then he finds the remnants of a lean-to time made from native plant materials. And he finds evidence of a campfire. And he sees some shoe prints. And, eventually, he finds a dead Joey. And, not long after, another one. And some other camps. And some arrows stuck in trees. Hoof prints. Yes, Joey has finally been fully corralled - the “happy hunting grounds” of Helen’s Neo-Amazonians is the prehistoric past, a Garden of Eden. He wanders, bewildered, scared, until he encounters a wall. And eventually along that wall he finds a gate. And standing in that gate is a twelve-foot-tall woman with wings and a giant sword who tells him he cannot leave.
Joey decides to simply rush forward to death, but when he charges the angel angrily with his fists up, she simply, easily, casually flips him back on to his back with one hand. He attacks her again and again and each time she rebuffs him without apparent effort. Completely emasculating. She won’t even hurt him. Just forcefully but gently tosses him back into the soft grass of the Garden.
He feels the kronotraveler in his pocket. What would happen if he activates it to go even further back? The angel says no one can escape the Garden, and he believes it. They wouldn’t let him keep the timepiece if it wasn’t factored into their plans for him. If he tries to blip away, it will only lead to something worse.
There is nothing Joey can do but return to one of the lean-tos and hunker down, survive the night, see what the next day brings.
Scene 12: “We can go back and straighten this out at our leisure. We’re time travelers. That's sort of the point.” (goes well for Klaus)
Klaus has been helping devise and execute the hunting and trapping of all the loose Joeys. Now that the last one is corralled in the Garden, Helen has one last task for him: there is one last Joey, working with his ancestor Leonardo and “some new enemies” in an attempt to reboot all of time, to beat Helen and her plan by unmaking everything that ever led to it. Helen will be able to open a portal to their Time Command Center; Klaus is to go in and stop them from rebooting. In the Command Center, DaVinci’s reboot code is being started, but when it comes time to turn the key… surprise! Klaus is there disguised as one of the armored guys. He turns the key - but not on DaVinci’s reboot routine, but rather on some code of his own. The Time Command Center is cut free of the rest of all history, encapsulated in its own bubble, and Klaus rewrites his own “bad morning” pretty much from scratch… or so he thinks.
In the Aftermath, there is one final roll by each player, with dice based on how well or badly their previous scenes have gone. The bell curve being what it is, though, really no matter how well or how badly the game has gone for you up to this point, the Aftermath roll can give you an ultimate fate ranging from getting away scot-free and better than ever, all the way to "worse than death". The players take turns, round-robin, walking their own character towards his or here ultimate ending as determined by the dice. Joey and Klaus got humiliating, horrific, degrading, miserable but ultimately survivable fates. Leonardo... got much worse.
1. In the Time Command bubble, Klaus gets away in the chaos as the reboot plan falls apart. He goes to activate his KT to return to the Museum but it doesn’t work! Helen replaced it, or sabotaged it, or something. It was never her intent to let him come back - all her loose ends are tying up here.
2. We flash back to Joey being Joey during all his “years” of time traveling, stealing stuff, banging every girl he can that the “do you have any Italian in you” line works on. ("Hey, she's from 200 BC, nobody's ever used that one on her yet!") Often, Helen is with him, forced to listen or watch or even participate because, lacking a chronotraveler, she is basically his hostage.
3. Leonardo, in the Time Command bubble, sees everything coming undone. He grabs a chronotraveler from one of the armored dudes (those DaVincis and their quick fingers!) and blips out before the bubble fully separates from the rest of reality.
4. Klaus fixes his nonfunctional KT2K with stuff he pulls out of the hardware running there in the Time Command bubble. It will sufficiently bridge the gap between the bubble and the rest of reality. He blips back to the Museum… where Helen and her guards are none too pleased to see him return.
5. Another flashback as we see, one by one, every lady that Joey ever mistreated or wronged or abused or just plain took advantage of - throughout all of history - is found and recruited by Helen. Methodically, systematically, over years of her own life and across millennia of human existence. Some need more convincing; others, much less. But Helen recruits them all. That is where her Neo-Amazonian army of huntresses has come from.
6. Leonardo travels back to 1475, to a time in his own life just before his original time-travel misadventure, before he ever met Klaus, “before” any of this stuff “happened” to him, where he meets up with his much younger self to have a conversation about what has happened and what they will do about it.
7. Klaus, back in the Museum, surrounded by Neo-Amazonians, is getting dressed down by Helen, who really would have preferred that Klaus disappear along with all the rest of it when the Time Command was severed from reality. “This was all your fault. All of it. You let all of this happen, thinking you’d have all the time in the world to go back and fix it if you needed to. So you let it get out of control, wrecking all of these lives, including - especially! - mine and then when you realized it was out of control because of you, you ran and hid like a whipped dog. I came after you not to redeem you by having you tie up all the loose ends. I came after you so I could tie you up. You’re the loose end.”
8. Haggard Joey, in the Garden, is allowed to live, but never well, never comfortably. He subsists as a hunter-gatherer, but the vegetation is never allowed to have so much fruit, so many vegetables that he ever has an easy time staying well-fed for days. He catches animals once in a while, but any time he makes better more effective traps, those are taken from him. If his shelters get too sturdy and effective, they are knocked down in the night. This goes on for months until one morning, a single Neo-Amazonian warrior comes down the hill to him with a bundle in her arms. It’s a baby, which she hands over to him. “You will raise this boy,” she says, “until he is old enough to be hunted.” Without another word, she departs.
9. The two DaVincis - one in his early twenties, the other in his mid-fifties - rethink their entire approach to time travel and develop what they believe is a new, safe approach - one that won’t create dangerous instabilities, one that won’t have refractory periods or create problematic paradoxes, one that will be consistent and reliable and quick and cheap. By 1476 they are ready to fire up their prototype.
10. Klaus is allowed to live and even stay at the Museum, but only as a menial janitor, mopping floors and cleaning the glass on display cabinets after the amazing artifacts have been removed from them and returned to their native times. He is not allowed to see recovered artifacts on display; he is too busy punching tickets for actual time-traveling tourists who are paying to see. He is never allowed to touch a KronoTraveler of any sort again. Helen’s forces watch him continually; if he even thinks about attempting time travel again, they will kill him... or worse, they'll erase him. Even if he were able to get his hands on a device, Helen has already shown that she can find him anywhere, anywhen. Perhaps someday Klaus will figure out a way to slip away, to escape, for real and forever. But for now, all he has to look forward to is the rest of his long, terrible, empty morning.
11. More boys are brought to Joey over the years. All of them are his own sons, of course. There will be dozens, scores of them; Joey knocked up a lot of ladies across history. All of them will be brought to him, given to him to be raised and then, someday, hunted. The difficulty of life in the Garden is carefully tuned to make sure it is possible, but never easy. As for Joey's daughters - well, they are of course also taken by Helen, to be cared for, nurtured, educated, and trained… to hunt. When they are old enough, they will stalk their own half-brothers in the Garden for sport. Perhaps someday Joey will figure out a way he and his sons can escape the Garden, for real and forever (however big it may actually sprawl across space and time - Klaus built a magnificent trap, after all). He still has his chronotraveler and it might even still work. But for now, all he has to look forward to is one day after another, all exactly the same, in this terrible Garden of Eden.
12. The DaVincis fire up their new Time System prototype but as soon as it starts, Leonardo remembers a terrible secret that had been buried subconsciously: All of this new time-travel ideology was nothing more than another, even more deeply planted program from the Time Rebooters. They knew Helen would get wise to their original plan so they let her get away with stopping that one. But this time, it’s going to activate before she even gets wind of it. It’s already activated, in fact. In an instance, the Leonardos are unmade, along with everyone and everything else in 1476. The entire rest of human existence after that moment, on every subsequent timeline, is whisked away and rebooted, unmade, never happened, never *will* happen. What becomes of the Earth from that moment on is all new, the quantum possibility dice being re-thrown from scratch. Perhaps someday someone will arise again in this new course of human history who builds a chronotraveler, a time-travel industry, a Museum of Artifacts and all of these terrible things will inexorably and inevitably happen yet again. In fact, perhaps this is not the end of all things yet to come, but in fact, the inciting incident that created the universe in which the Streichlands were possible. Perhaps this is actually not our point of termination. Perhaps it’s our point of origin…
For those wondering whether the aforementioned "tipping" of the "doodlebug" was a real practice in the 1944 air war, the answer is yes and from the ground it looked something like this:
Spitfire on the left, V1 on the right.
For consideration: Another chapter coming soon, I think.
When the first jaguars began to rain from the sky, it seemed impossible. Most of them did not survive, of course, but the ones that did were insanely tough and really pissed off. Furry Terminators, every one. And the rain of big cats kept going. Still going. Cities buried. Canyons filled. Rivers and lakes clogged and overflowing. Bulldozers, heavy lifting helicopters, incinerators - we can barely keep up with the incoming rate. Jaguar landfills. The oceans rising from dead jaguar displacement and being held back by dikes made of fallen jaguars. Don't dare go outside. You'll never hear the one that gets you. But really, even the fear and the horror have worn off at this point. It's just inevitability now. It'll never end. We can't even tell where they form; somewhere in space, coming in like slow meteors. Already cleared all the satellites out, and the space station. This is the new way of things. Oh, did you hear that? That was one just now, out in the street. Giant wet smacking sound. Hope it's not still alive. Guess I'd better get my flamethrower. Stupid Mayans.
Let's face it. You're in a social media rut.
Most of the time, you post more or less the same sorts of stuff that you usually post. Day-to-day pictures. Topical thoughts. Joke tweets. Shared links. LOLCAT porn. (Hopefully not LOLCAT porn.) On Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest… It's what your comfortable with, I know...
…but why not try something different for a day?
Lewis Carroll, author of ALICE'S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND and THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS, would be 181 years old tomorrow. When Alice chased that White Rabbit down a hole, she found herself having a day entirely unlike the ones that came before or after. It was a day when anything could happen, and nothing normal did.
Alice got well and truly out of her regular life and to celebrate Lewis Carroll's birthday, we should do the same.
Wherever you live your online life, tomorrow - January 27th - try living it down the rabbit hole. Instead of the usual work and school and politics and friends and church and relationships and stuff that you have every regular day, go down the rabbit hole and experience the work, school, politics, friends, church, relationships, and stuff that you find there instead. Travel through time. Turn into an animal. Flee from assassins. Talk to your goldfish. Conquer Greenland. Sprout some extra limbs. Learn how to walk on water. Marry an insect.
In your Twitter feed. On your Tumblr. On Facebook. With Instagram. In your Google+ circles. On DeviantArt or LiveJournal or MySpace. In your own personal blog. Anywhere and everywhere, take a break from the Every Day and find your Rabbit Hole Day instead.
Your normal life will be waiting for you when you get back.
If you decide to come back.
It’s not much to look at; a stubby collection of sheet steel and plywood. A resonant tube on its ass pushes it along at nearly four hundred miles an hour. In its nose, a spinning propellor winds a counter down. Between them sits two thousand pounds of explosives. When the counter reaches zero, the ungainly bird will dive sharply down, engine silenced, and then the explosives will do the rest.
Der Führer wants it to be called the “may beetle”, even though they didn’t deploy until June. The scientists who built it called them “cherry stones”. The launch teams lovingly refer to it as their “crow”. The English civilians who are its intended victims, hearing the distinctive fifty-Hertz tone of its pulse jet engine, know it as the “buzz bomb”. But to the R.A.F., the V-1 has become the “doodlebug”.
This particular doodlebug is one of nearly a hundred that the Germans will send towards the south of England today. It comes in over the Channel at about two thousand feet, on the low side. If nothing stops it, it will probably drop short of London - in Greenwich or Croydon or Dartford. It might land in a field, or a street, or a block of flats. It might kill dozens or harm not a single soul in the least. If nothing stops it.
Someone’s sure as hell gonna try, though. They come up as a pack of six: Spitfire XIVs of No. 91 Squad out of West Malling, set right in the bugger’s path and forewarned by spotters on the coast. They float a thousand feet higher while the buzz bomb, and a pair of companions, pass below. Then, three and three, they pinwheel to drop from above, picking up speed their propellors wouldn’t normally reach to match the doodlebug’s.
You can’t shoot the bomb from behind. It’s a pretty easy target but you’ll be too close; that blast debris will take the front end right off your plane just as sure as if you’d been hit by anti-aircraft fire. Some crews - the Tempest Vs out of Newchurch, for example - try to time a shot from the side, so the blast is already moving away from you when it happens. Safer, but tricky timing; you only get a split-second to make it or fail.
These West Malling Spitfires, though, they prefer a different tactic. The first trio catches up with the three ugly bombs, coming down right above them. Then, shift over one side or the other and before you lose too much airspeed and start falling behind, bring your own wing down right on top of the bomb’s. Just a few seconds is all it takes to disrupt the airflow; the bomb’s wing tilts away and then the whole thing flips and goes down.
“Tipping the doodlebug,” that’s what they call it. It’s not foolproof, of course. Numbers one and two each drop in gracefully enough and dispatch their bugs, but number three’s dive was too steep and he falls in behind the V-1 too low, too slow; the thick trail from its pulse engine washes over his cockpit window. Ahead, Maidstone suddenly becomes visible through the summer haze, right in the remaining bomb’s path.
If its counter drops in the next few minutes, it could splash right in the town center. Right now they’re over wide open fields; a minute from now they don’t dare knock it down. It has to go now. Number three has a fine cannon shot, if he wants to take it. Should he take it? There is chaotic back and forth on the radio for a moment before a voice, higher but clearer than the rest, chimes in: “Don’t worry, I’ve got it.”
It’s number Six. The second trio of Spitfires made their dive one minute behind the first set, as backups. Six is coming down right on mark, right alongside the bomb’s right side, but there’s no time for the delicate line-up and gentle air-foil trick. With a sharp wiggle of the stick, Six smacks its own left wing directly onto the bomb’s right: a distinct swat, a slap of the metal glove that sends the doodlebug reeling hard.
Too hard: the bomb flips over on its right and its left wing catches the Spitfire’s striking wing as it goes over. There’s a puff of torn metal as both aircraft lose bits of alloyed aluminum and steel. Then the buzz bomb is down and out; seconds later it is a spectacular but harmless fireball on the English countryside. Six’s Spitfire has lost aileron control on the one side, however. Its stick has gone syrupy.
The squad wheels around for their return to West Malling. Six refuses to mayday, adamant that it’s nowhere that grim, but it’s a struggle to line up on the runway. The Spitfire is rudder-twitchy on its best days; the bent aileron wants the plane to roll left and the nose keeps pushing off. The tail sways this way and that as the plane comes down on the runway too fast and too hard.
The screech of wheels down, then the plane makes one last hard push to the left. It’s too much hold back; off the flightline and into the grass the Spitfire careens. But it’s down and now it needs a bounce and jounce to come to a halt. Not even a fire - but you wouldn’t know it from the number of emergency crew that rush to the plane’s side. The first responders to arrive are in a near panic for the pilot’s well-being.
The cockpit glass pushes back. Worried field personnel clamber onto the wings. “I’m fine, fellas,” the pilot reassures them. Then, a head shake - maybe to clear thoughts, or just to get her hair out of her eyes. She waves away all the helpful hands trying to reach for her. “It’s okay. I can get out of my own plane, you know.” She does accept a helpful hand as she slides over the wing down to the ground, out of politeness not need.
Charlie Banks, chief of airfield operations, is there looking worried. “The plane is fine, Charlie,” she reassures him. “And so am I.” Charlie wrings his hands: “It’s not about the Spit, or about your Royal Highness’ self, though I’m glad for both.” He pauses, and suddenly Elizabeth Windsor, heiress presumptive of the United Kingdom, knows what’s wrong: “I’m pinched, aren’t I? Somehow Father found out...?” She sighs. “Bugger.”
For consideration: an idea that's been kicking around for a while in my head, shaken loose by HWRNMNBSOL's return to daily writing
while it runs
through the night
Gotta keep it nice and neat
When you're in its heat
Hottub, hottub, hottub
Don't you know you gotta
Shock the hottub
Test the strip
You can brominate
Watch the drip
There's one more test you must get 'round:
Bring the hardness down
What's the hubbub with the hottub?
Hottub, hottub, hottub
Don't you know you gotta
Shock the hottub
Hottub - Chemical's doubling
Hottub - Something's bubbling
Hottub - Sure do like it even though it's troubling
Shock! Watch the hottub get clean, hottub!
While you sleep
So it keeps its heat
Throw your spoonfuls in the swirl
Then invite your girl!
Hottub, hottub, hottub
Don't you know you gotta
Shock the hottub
Hottub - Submerge your backs
Hottub - Jets behind relax
Hottub - Feel the heat it packs!
Shock! Watch the hottub get clean, hottub!
Shock the hottub
Shock the hottub
Shock the hottub tonight
Stark and Rhodey, more than just a toady,
demonstratin' weapons of war.
Bruce and Betty, gettin' kinda sweaty,
gamma radiation galore.
In Pepper's job Natasha sat
and after every movie, Fury's the cool cat.
Thor and Loki, just gettin' pokey
in Asgard - you know where that's at,
and no one's in the past except good ol' Cap.
Nick said, "Tony, i know you're not a phony.
A hero's really what you should be. (Join my team.)"
Stark said, "Fury, the drink has made me blurry.
I'll sober up eventually."
Stark, Fury, and Natasha sat (on the carrier)
and after the next movie, they had a chat.
Thor and Loki, still gettin' pokey
in Asgard - you know where that's at
and way back in the past crashed good ol' Cap.
Steve Rogers was bolder but couldn't be a soldier;
a procedure changed it all one day.
Fightin' against HYDRA, Red Skull behind ya;
the Tesseract dissolves him away.
When Fury met Cap there was adventure:
called Stark and Bruce and assembled the Avengers.
Thor and Loki - the movie did okay;
the next film is where it's at,
and no one's in the past, even good ol' Cap.
Favreau, arc glow, Branagh, frost thaw;
every film released in a chain.
Johnston, pounced on, Joss will get announced and
Comic-Con is going insane.
Ruffalo is next to get his hulk on;
Renner comes along and he gets a bow drawn.
Aliens and Loki, not very low key
while Kirby… well, you know where that's at
'cause everyone's makin' cash except good ol' Jack.
Trembled, assembled, Loki sure dissembled;
Hawkeye gets his mind obscured.
Widow has to break it; Coulson doesn't make it -
he could have used some powers for sure.
Open up a portal to the space fleet;
stop the invasion, golly that effect's neat.
Disney picks a weekend, calculate the back end,
run these ads immediately.
Let's see if we can make a billion dollars internationally.
For consideration: http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/168500
Today was Jamie McKelvie's birthday. As usual, he spent it lamenting his fate. I thought he could use some cheering up. So here is my proposed cliffhanger final page from issue #1 of the series we absolutely will not be doing together, DIZNAUTS, about a superhero team consisting of Disney characters, both original and acquired properties, from all periods of the company's history. In the debut issue, the team consists of Mickey Mouse, Snow White, Tinkerbell, Woody from Toy Story, and most-recently-acquired Spider-Man. I sure hope it's not too complicated for him.
Diznauts #1: "There Is No I in Free"
MICKEY, still optimistic in the face of ultimate chaos and CRASHING WATER all around, is holding the CRYPTOPORTICON, trying to keep it closed but to no avail. It is shifting and writhing in FOUR-DIMENSIONAL BOILING SPACETIME in his hands, its multiversal power making his modern data color form and his original Steamboat Willie manifestation overlap like bad 3D. KIRBY ENERGY is pouring off of it and, in its center, a hole that looks just like the black hole from THE BLACK HOLE is opening to reveal pieces of every DISNEY INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY, original and acquired, from the whole history of the company, all interfering with each other: Huey, Dewey, and Louie are running from the Fantasia alligators; Lady and Tramp are pulling the Cheshire Cat apart limb from limb; Captain Nemo's Nautilus is crashing into Monstro the whale from Pinocchio; Herbie the Love Bug and Lightning McQueen are outracing a TRON lightcycle; the 101 dalmations are overrunning all of the Avengers; and whatever else you can think of.
Mickey (still smiling):
THE DRM haha THE DRM HAS BEEN HACKED! IF WE DON'T haha FIND A WAY TO EXTEND COPYRIGHT AGAIN, OUR ENTIRE UNIVERSE WILL BECOME haha PUBLIC DOMAIN!
The flooding waters, straight out of the Sorceror's Apprentice sequence from FANTASIA, are swirling around SNOW WHITE - but even more dangerous than the rising waters are the GHOST PRINCESSES that are tearing at her from all sides - all the other PRINCESSES (at the very least, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Jasmine, Tiana, and Mulan) done up in PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN-type undead effects, rising from the waters to pull her down. Snow is fighting them off, trying not to panic but let's be honest - several of them are way more competent and effective than she is. Overhead, TINKERBELL zips back and forth helplessly, leaving fractal trails in her wake.
SO MUCH CONTENT! HOW CAN ANYTHING CONTAIN IT ALL?
TINK! WHERE ARE THE OTHERS?
This panel, and the next five, are all relatively small, focused on WOODY and SPIDER-MAN. They are also contending with the swirling water, which is all full of TINY LIGHTS like the Disneyland Electrical Parade, in these panels, struggling to stay afloat as they are talking. Make sure there's plenty of room for the dialog - this is just rough draft text, might end up being a lot more in final script.
In this panel, Woody is twirling his LASSO, getting ready to throw it over a stony ROCK that is protruding from the water. Spidey is already on the rock.
WE'RE A-OK OVER HERE, SNOW! RIGHT SPIDEY?
WHAT IF THE DECRYPTERS HAVE THE RIGHT IDEA?
Woody throws a dark scowl at Spidey. He doesn't like what he's hearing at all. Spidey is sort of shrugging, not really defensively but maybe a little, you know, just, he's just throwing this out there for consideration.
WHAT'RE YOU SAYIN', PARTNER? THAT'S CRAZY TALK!
YEAH WELL… I KNOW I'M THE NEW KID ON THIS PARTICULAR BLOCK, BUT…
DON'T YOU THINK SEVENTY YEARS IS LONG ENOUGH TO CONTROL SOMETHING?
Woody is starting to become genuinely angry. He is still circling his lasso over his head.
BUT IF COPYRIGHTS EXPIRE… HOW CAN THE WORKS BE RESPECTED?
WHO IS GOING TO TAKE CARE OF US? HUH? DID YOU THINK ABOUT THAT?
MAYBE THE BEST WAY TO RESPECT A CREATION IS TO LET THE WHOLE WORLD ENJOY USING IT…
Woody's lasso suddenly lands… not around the rock… but around Spidey! Spidey has the surprised face.
GONNA HAVE TO PUT OFF THE DEBATE, PAL…
With a sharp yank, Woody's lasso pulls Spidey right off the rock… just as a GOLDEN FLUID PROJECTILE splatters all over the rock! If Spidey had still been there, it would have totally gotten him all over! But the projectile isn't just any energy-liquid… It's HONEY. Sticky golden honey blast.
Spidey, in the churning water next to Woody, looks relieved. Woody is looking up at something off-panel.
WHOA, THANKS FOR THE SAVE, COWBOY.
BUT WHAT WAS…
IT… CAN'T… BE…!
INFORMATION WANTS TO BE FREE, BITCHES!
Okay, so we didn't get the extra two pages we asked for so the final two page spread is going to have to fit into this last panel. It is, of course, WINNIE THE POOH unmasking himself as the villain behind the decrypters. He is floating up above our heroes - all five of them caught up in the water with the cryptoporticon, the undead princesses, and the electric lights. In one hand, Winnie is holding the BRIGHT BALLOONS from UP to keep himself aloft; his other hand is crackling with more STICKY HONEY energy-blast. Oh, also he is wearing a totally NEW OUTFIT now that he is a villain. Some sort of totally awesome and hardcore BATTLE-ARMOR that still is true to his red-and-gold plush-animal look and feel. You'll come up with something, I know, 'cause you always do. Beyond him we see thousands and thousands of MOUSKETEER DRONES, each one floating with a single balloon - his whole loyal child army. Oh shit!
All the heroes together:
NOW, I AM JUST…
For consideration: just as soon as this finishes printing out I will fax it to him post-haste
I'm getting current at last!
KUNG FU PANDA: * * * *
Another request from Liana, of course. She's taking a "kung fu" class after school one day a week - which, as near as I can tell, mostly means they do lots of jumping exercises that vaguely resemble parts of some of the basic forms - so she's interested in the subject. Fairly cleverly done, enough so to be a decent kung fu film in its own right. I look forward to introducing Liana to the more light-hearted and bloodless classics of genuine Chinese cinema someday. (Maybe DRUNKEN MASTER…?)
ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA: * * *
I had never gotten around to seeing this classic, even when I was taking in a ton of Chinese cinema in the late 90s. It has some great moments, little bits of humor and slice-of-life, but the way it's edited or something left me feeling like I was missing a lot of whatever was going on. It didn't flow, it sort of jumped along, and there's an inconsistency to the look and feel (different film stock? second unit directors?) that furthered the disconnectedness.
COWBOY BEBOP: THE MOVIE: * * *
The Spike-heavy emo episodes of the regular series were always my least-favorite and, unfortunately, the movie is comparatively Spike-heavy. Faye is fine, but Ed has little function other than a couple of info-finding moments and Jet does virtually nothing the entire film. So, on the whole, a bit disappointing.
DRIVE: * * * *
I didn't love this the way many of my friends did. It hints at emotional depth but ultimately feels sterile. Laurenn McCubbin put it perfectly: It's beautiful but sort of empty. Appropriate for a Los Angeles movie, I suppose, but I wanted to feel like there was real change by the end and, other than a bunch of people being dead now, it's sort of back where it started. "And then he just drives away forever."
SUPER 8: * * *
JJ Abrams pretty much captures Steven Spielberg nostalgia in exactly the way you'd expect. Doesn't really add anything to the mythos that ET didn't accomplish first and better, and it gets increasingly sloppy for the sake of excessiveness as it gets toward the end. And one thing I *really* hate is a space-faring and supposedly technologically superior alien being who somehow can't behave any more carefully or thoughtfully than a rabid panther.
THE TEMPEST: * * * *
A very nice adaptation. The switch of Prospero (father) to Prospera (mother) really changes the tone of the story in a way that… I wouldn't say is "better"… but is certainly worthwhile seeing. The visual implementation of Ariel was sort of WTF at first, but as the film moves along it really grew on me. On the other hand, while I can see the direction (I think) they were thrusting by casting Djimon Hounsou as Caliban - effectively making race the thing that makes him "monstrous" in the eyes of these Europeans, instead of actual bodily hideousness - it didn't work quite as well as their other choices. (You just can't make that dude plausibly into a monster, though I guess it enhances Caliban as a sympathetic character.) Russell Brand is quite enjoyable as a mash-up of the Trinculo character and his own effected persona.
LILO & STITCH: * * * *
A bit different for Disney fare. Liana quite liked it, though on re-watchings she needs to skip the part where the whole house gets trashed - it's a bit too anxiety-inducing for her.
LONDON BOULEVARD: * * * *
I thought this would be another fine Fiasco story, but it's a little different than the usual caper gone wrong. I found the love story a bit implausible, though, as it sort of comes together very quickly and without a lot of good show-not-tell evidence to support the supposed chemistry. Colin Farrell impresses again; this would be a fine double feature with IN BRUGES (* * * *). Ray Winstone also excellent; this would be a fine double feature with SEXY BEAST (* * * *).
AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON: * * * *
While in London, C and I met up with most of my London friends crew at the Slaughtered Lamb, in Clerkenwell. What's the first thing anyone mentions about the Slaughtered Lamb when it comes up? "It's the pub from AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON, you know." We're cabbing over there and the driver mentions it. Then he and I experienced a bit of reverie over Jenny Agutter and our respective boyhood crushes (his from THE RAILWAY CHILDREN, mine from LOGAN'S RUN * * * * *). So when we got back, of course, I had to watch it again. Every bit as goofy and weird as I remember. What I'd forgotten was how beautifully well done the torn-up and decaying Griffin Dunne makeup was. Rick Baker is the freakin' KING.
STALKER: * * * *
"If SOLARIS was Tarkovsky's Soviet version of 2001, STALKER is his Soviet take on WIZARD OF OZ." When you hear about this film, it almost always involves lavish praise for the crazy, toxic, desolate landscape in which the film takes place. And I always thought, yeah, okay, two and a half hours of nothing happening in a marvelously apocalyptic ruin. Yeesh. But I finally decided to bite the bullet. Holy cow, STALKER is a beautiful film. One of the most beautifully-shot films I have ever seen, I think. Yes, virtually nothing happens through the entire film, but it was still very much worth seeing. I might even watch it again someday, just to soak in the setting and the way in which it is captured. I would honestly like this film even more if it had less dialogue. The best parts of the film are when nobody is saying anything at all.
For consideration: not really sure what the next ten are going to be; more Disney for Liana, certainly, and a couple more nostalgic movies from thirty years ago for myself, I think
These were mostly from the end of last year, actually. I'm in no mood to wrestle with LJ-cuts tonight but I don't think there's anything too spoilery here.
ROCKNROLLA: * * * *
Guy Ritchie can go ahead and keep on making the same movie over and over and I'll be just fine watching them. A fully sweet Fiasco.
BATTLESTAR GALACTICA: RAZOR: * * * *
This was all the stuff I liked about the redone BSG series: difficult moral issues in a military context, deeply unsettling awareness of the dwindling human race as a resource to be both conserved and exploited, and big ass spaceships just blowing the holy hell out of each other. No Baltar crying. No faux spacey-crunchy Cylon hybrid baby plan. No occupied Caprica. None of that crap. Just the cold and expedient pragmatism of war for survival.
BRIDESMAIDS: * * * *
As a log-line, totally horribly not something I'd ever want to see. A friend's wedding prompts a woman to reassess her adult life as it all unravels for her? Ugh. But, hey, it turns out to have been all that. Funny, poignant, awkward. Always impressive when a comedy writer writes a great, awkward character and then portrays that character as well - like Jason Segel in FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL (* * *), Kristen Wiig really nails her own messed-up protagonist. And the dress shop scene that culminates with Maya Rudolph out in the street is probably the most horrifying/hilarious ill humor scene I've seen in a year.
UNLEASHED (DANNY THE DOG): * * *
I thought this would be awesome - Jet Li! Bob Hoskins as a bad guy! Weird bondage premise! - but it just leaned a bit too much on the feel-good side. Maybe would have been less touchy-feeling-in-my-heart if they hadn't had MORGAN F'ING FREEMAN playing HIS USUAL ROLE only this time HE'S BLIND AS WELL. Sheesh.
HAPPY FEET: * * *
The girls love it, of course, but I don't think they really understand what happens at the end. Not as great a kids movie as it seems like it coulda/shoulda been.
HERO: * * * * *
Disappointed by DANNY THE DOG, I seek additional Jet Li to satisfy the craving and, boom, this is exactly what I wanted. Each of the fights, throughout, is a different sort of beautiful. Of course it's pretty obvious from the start what is going to be revealed, but the film is no less enjoyable for being unsurprising in that regard. You know a flower will open in the sunlight; when it does so, it is no less magnificent for being predictable.
TROLLHUNTER: * * *
Has its moments, and definitely excels in the low-budget high-value effects, but somehow as found-footage type films go, I felt like it didn't quite hold together well enough. Especially after I saw MONSTERS (* * * *) last year. Amusingly and disturbingly, the eponymous troll-hunting character has a strong resemblance to my writerly friend Warren Ellis (TRANSMETROPOLITAN, CROOKED LITTLE VEIN).
HUNTER PREY: * * *
Remember that fan trailer film that came out a few years ago, with Batman and the Joker and the Alien and the Predators? Yeah. Well, that guy made this little indie film about alien bounty hunters trying to recover their captive after a crash. It was fairly decent work, though it basically ends right in the middle of the story. The surprise reveal partway in, of course, is something you should have guessed in the first few minutes, but it's okay, it's not really the point.
LEXX: SERIES 1: I WORSHIP HIS SHADOW: * * * *
I really dug the later seasons of this show but had never gotten around to watching the original movies. I think the streaming versions on NetFlix are edited for content but that's fine, even with some of the T&A cut out, they managed to keep all of the cheese. I admire their ability to create a universe setting that is both seriously grim and completely goofy.
THE BEAVER: * * *
Did you know this was, at one point, intended to be a Steve Carell vehicle? This was one of a bunch of unproduced scripts that I read a couple years back, and I'm glad they got a genuinely fucked up guy like Mel Gibson to do it instead. It was an interesting sort of script executed reasonably well, if you like films that are trying to be the next AMERICAN BEAUTY (* * * *).
For consideration: next up, couple more movies for the girls, another Fiasco or two, and Shakespeare
Played at work on 3/29/12, two days before the previously-posted Seattle game.
"Last Frontier" is Jason Morningstar's Alaskan wilderness setting. Usually our work games are three players, but this one had four.
- old friends from Juneau
- ruthless social rivals
- in Alcoholics Anonymous
- Object: Skiff with a fiddly outboard
- Need to get even with all the nosy small people
- Location: Houseboat
- Need to know the truth about the thing you saw in Kaku Inlet
Former State Senator Chuck Penderhouse (Mike T)
Left office under a cloud of scandal. The usual stuff - oil industry bribery, that sort of thing. Maybe some rough-type-stuff. Now staying out of the public eye for an election cycle or so before forcing his way back into office. He has a houseboat way up in Skagway. Ought to be just the place to cool it a while. But he's finding he really hates the way small-town people are always getting up in your business. He's getting a little stir-crazy. Everyone in town calls him "the Senator" even though, strictly speaking, he currently isn't.
Leon Penderhouse (Jeff R)
Chuck's badly-behaved dumb-as-mud younger brother. He's been "keeping an eye on" Chuck's houseboat the last couple of years. It's not in great condition as a result. Leon is trying to lay off the drink these days.
Mike "Mikey Mac" MacKenzie (Dan J)
Mikey Mac used to roll pretty hard in the oil industry down in Juneau but the parties and the money and the drugs and the whores got a little out of control. He's been detoxing up here in Skagway for a couple of years now on what little savings he was able to hold onto. It's been good for him.
Gus "Guster" Carmichael (Dan P)
Worked with Mike a fair amount back in Juneau, and still likes to work big and play hard. But he's come up to Skagway for a couple of weeks, just some time away to do some fishing, and he's looked up his old buddy Mikey of course. He used to rub shoulders, in a socially competitive way, with the Senator not so long ago.
Mikey Mac has little skiff with a "fiddly" outboard motor. He takes folks out in it, mostly for fishing - mostly ol' buddy Gus lately. They strike out into the water for a few hours at a time with Gus' big tackle box of fishing gear… which is actually geological survey gear. See, Gus thinks he's got a lead on a major oil find, he just needs to sew it up before anyone else finds out. His buddy Mike is the only one he trusts with the secret 'cause he knows Mike is out of the game.
Mike's skiff also sees pretty regular use with Leon Penderhouse, who he is in AA with. Mike and Leon occasionally putter over to Kaku Inlet with a bottle - just one! - to share. When the bottle's gone, they ain't got no more, so they're done. That's how they keep their drinking under control. They believe.
But today, while they were drinking in the inlet, they saw something… Something strange. They don't agree on the details, but the basics were: Truck drove up to the edge of the lake. Guy and girl got out. Might have been arguing. Girl may have given the guy some money. Girl disrobed and swam, naked, out into the water. Guy got back in his truck and departed. Naked girl in the water suddenly went under… and never came back up.
It's summer. The days are really long. As day turns into "evening", the sun is still very much up.
Sobering up when they're back on shore, sort of, Leon wants to call 911. He thinks something in the lake pulled the girl under. He wants it to be an anonymous call so he uses one of the pay phones instead of calling from home. "You gotta go out to the inlet, a girl drowned out there!" The operator recognizes his voice. Sympathetically: "Leon, have you been drinking again?" Leon tries to convince her to send a rescue team out to the inlet but instead she tells him to stay at home, she's sending a squad car out to interview him in more detail. Shit! He's nowhere near home and his brother, the Senator, is there and doesn't know about any of this yet! He starts to run home as fast as he can.
The sun crawls slowly toward the horizon.
2. Senator Penderhouse
Sure enough, a black-n-white rolls up as the Senator, in his bathrobe, pours himself yet another cocktail. "No, actually, I'd rather not let you come aboard. What's Leon done this time, officers? Witness a girl drowning, you say? Where? … Oh, really, out in Kaku Inlet? Well, officers, I think Leon must have been drinking with Mikey Mac. What utter nonsense. They see things all the time. Those two, I swear… It's a shame when grown men can't handle their liquor. (He swirls his brandy.) No need to wait for Leon to get home. I'll make sure he doesn't waste any more department time with crank calls. Just leave this to me, officers. Thank you for your concern." Scowling, he watches the cops depart. Dammit, Leon, why do you always gotta give these rubes more excuses to come get in our grill?
Gus is scouting out some waterfront property when he's ambushed by Jan Eastman, a plucky reporter of the Skagway Gazette. Well, *the* plucky reporter, really; it's a tiny paper. Jan wants to know why a big-city oil money roller like Gus is up in Skagway. Fishing? Please. Jan knows a cover story when she hears one. Is he up here because of the Senator? Some kind of deal in the works? Is he involved in all the island and waterfront property that's being quietly scooped up through various blind fronts? Gus does not like being under the microscope, even from (especially from!) a small town twerp like this. He tries to dissemble, claiming nothing interesting is going on, but when that doesn't deter her he turns a sharper edge, trying to warn her off. When Jan brings up Senator Penderhouse as an implied threat, he threatens back, abouther job, implying that he knows her publisher. That doesn't seem to work either; she agrees to leave him alone for now but she's clearly going to be an ongoing problem. Gus is going to have to step up the heat.
4. Mikey Mac
After dropping Leon off, still not entirely sober himself yet, Mike heads back out into the water with his skiff, to head back to Kaku Inlet. He wants to poke around some more, for some evidence - preferably that helps support his own theory about what they saw, whatever that theory is. He doesn't know yet. When he gets out there, he finds the tire tracks of the truck… the footprints of the girl… but not her clothes. And certainly no body. But whatever it was they saw happen, it mostly did… right? After piling back into his skiff, he spots movement: a naked girl on the shore, walking among the trees. The same girl? It sort of looks like her but she's disappearing into the forest. He tries to fire up his outboard motor, to pursue her from the water, but it takes a few too many tries: pull, pull, pull, adjust, pull, dammit! By the time he has it running, she's gone.
The Guster really wants this Jan girl off his ass. He and Mikey Mac shook off more than one journalist, back in their hardest-core days. They used to blow shit up. Whatever it took. Gus looks up Jan's home address - she's in a regular old phone book! - and goes over there to blow up her Jeep. She lives more or less out in the sticks, edge of town, so witnesses shouldn't be a problem. Gus douses the car in gasoline, writes a vague (but should be apparent to Jan) message, lights it on fire… but it blows up prematurely. Gus' arm catches alight and burns for a minute before he can put it out, leaving him pretty seriously maimed and burned.
The sun touches the horizon as he runs from the scene, cursing.
6. Mikey Mac
Mike shows up at the houseboat. Leon has gotten home by now - too late for the cops, of course. Leon has been getting dressed down by his older brother for causing trouble. Mike wants Leon to calm down - the girl's still alive, he says. Whatever it was they saw, they didn't see her die. Senator Chuck is trying to help Mikey calm his brother down: "See? Mikey Mac has it covered. It's fine, Leon, let it go." An entirely innocent glance passes between the Senator and Mikey Mac… but Leon sees it and totally misinterprets it as collusion. Now he's *doubly* determined to make someone listen to him about the trouble out at Kaku Inlet, and he realizes he can't talk to either his best buddy Mike or his own brother about it, because whatever is going on, they're both part of the conspiracy! Leon acts like he's calming down, and convinces the other two that he's not going to go to the cops anymore or anything like that.
7. Senator Penderhouse
After Mikey Mac and Leon leave, the Senator gets a call from Ron Lawson, editor-in-chief of the Skagway Gazette… whose publisher is the Senator. Ron is calling the Senator to let him know that plucky reporter Jan is on the heels of big oil roller Gus. The Senator seems intrigued to hear what Gus is up to, but doesn't want Jan stirring things up too much. "Send her into the boondocks for a while," Chuck says. "I heard something strange about a missing girl, maybe drowned, out in Kaku Inlet. Maybe she should look into that." Ron agrees to take the pressure off Gus and send Jan out to the inlet. The Senator pours himself another double.
Since they're not going to the cops, Leon wants to keep investigating himself - he wants to find that pickup truck that they saw on the shore. Mikey Mac agrees to come along to humor him, more than anything. They are walking around town with no luck for quite some time until eventually, Mike needs to go to the bathroom. He steps into a gas station toilet… and just then, across the street in a diner parking lot, Leon spots the pickup truck. And the dude. Walking out of the diner with another girl. Another girl! They get in the truck and start to back out. Where's Mikey Mac, dammit? Leon has to take action, quickly. He runs across the street, jumps onto the side of the moving truck as it backs out, and tries to pull the girl out of it. "Don't go with him! He's going to try to kill you!" The guy swerves the truck, shakes Leon off, throwing him hard onto the asphalt… but in swerving, the truck heads into oncoming traffic and is plowed at an angle by a logging truck. The pickup flips over, shredding, bouncing, coming apart just as Mikey steps out of the toilet.
"Paranoia: Someone is watching, waiting for their moment"
As the old man and the girl head out to the truck, start backing away, get jumped by Leon… we pan back inside the diner, where we see Ron Lawson, editor of the Gazette, taking in the whole spectacle. When the truck crashes, Ron decides he should slip away without being seen, and goes out the diner's back door. (Mike T later points out this somehow must have been Ron demonstrating his veteran journalist instincts, but we never quite got it back into play to really develop.)
"Innocents: Collateral damage"
Flashback: Ron Lawson on the phone to Senator Penderhouse, in his office at the Gazette. Jan Eastman is in her own office, but she can't help herself: she hears Ron on the phone, sneaks over, presses her ear against the door, and listens to his whole conversation where he takes his orders from the Senator. Jan realizes she's all alone on this one - that even Ron is selling out. She slips out of the office before he's off the phone… and a few minutes later, she arrives home to find her second car, the Jeep, all blown up.
Leon approaches the twisted wreckage of the truck, Mikey Mac not far behind. The old man, the driver, is completely dead… but the girl was thrown from the truck, because Leon had been trying to pull her out when they swerved, and she's landed off the side of the road, down a slight slope, out of sight from the witnesses who are beginning to respond. Leon skitters down the slope to her; Mikey comes down after. She's alive, unconscious but alive, and Leon gets a dumb-as-mud idea: Take her back to the houseboat, to find out from her whatever she knows about the truck and the dude who is now dead. Great idea. He talks Mikey into helping and they sneak the girl away without being spotted, get her into Mikey's car, and get her all the way to the houseboat. But the Senator hears them roll up and - seeing what is *clearly* Trouble with a Capital T being dragged onto the gangplank - blocks their approach. "No," he says. Leon wants to push past him. Are they going to fight? Wait: the girl is waking up. Leon immediately wants to interrogate her right there on the gangplank. There is some confusion as the girl becomes conscious and - much like the girl who disappeared into the lake last night - it's not clear exactly what happens next, except that Leon and the girl fall from the gangplank into the cold water. Mikey looks at the Senator. They both understand that neither of them is going to jump into that icy wet to save either of them. (Senator: "We can't go in there. It would be suicide.") Mikey shrugs and leaves; the Senator continues to look down into the water, swirling his brandy.
The sun vanishes behind the hills in the west and the sky finally begins to dim.
Gus needs to deal with his burned arm and, in his confusion, can only remember that Mikey Mac had a pretty complete first aid kit in his skiff. He goes to Mikey's tie-up and starts tossing the boat until he finds the kit. As he sets to bandaging up his burn, who shows up at the skiff…? Why, it's Jan Eastman, plucky reporter, coming to talk to Mikey Mac about Kaku Inlet, trying to understand what it is she thinks she's being set up for. But she gets there and sees Gus - with his burned arm - and everything clicks. Gus makes for a moment like, okay, you got me, I'll explain everything… But instead he whips the first aid kit up and hits her across the face. Jan falls down and The Guster follows up with more blunt violence until Jan is finished. Then he rolls her body into the skiff, pulls the tricky starter until it kicks into life eventually, and heads out into the water, heading for Kaku Inlet.
11. Mikey Mac
Mike gets back to his skiff tie-up, sees that the boat is gone. What the hell…? He immediately suspects Gus, that Gus has gone out boating solo for some reason. What's he going to do about it? Just then, up rolls Ron Lawson, who's trying to find Jan - he stopped by her house to tell her about the Kaku Inlet assignment, saw the burned Jeep, figured maybe Gus was more dangerous than expected - and who knows Gus better than ol' Mikey Mac, right? So here he is. They put two and two together and more or less come to the right conclusion: Gus has the skiff, and Jan, and is heading to Kaku Inlet. They pile into Ron's car and take the shoreline road at blistering speed. They pull up to the shore just in time to see Gus putter the skiff into the center of the skiff… and push Jan's body over the side, weighted with the first aid kit. What can they do? Nothing. Nothing. They pull the car back out of sight before Gus spots them. They need to get back to town and try to catch Gus when he returns…
12. Senator Penderhouse
Once he's pretty sure Leon's not coming back up, the Senator looks up from the water… and sees that nosy old retired neighbor on his boat down at the other end of the marina, watching through a pair of binoculars. Oh, shit. These nosy f'ing people… These… The old man's binocs go down and his hand slowly reaches for the phone, clearly to call the police. Something snaps in Chuck. Fuck this whole town and everyone in it. He waves to get the guy's attention, gestures to indicate that he's going to come up, all friendly like. He just needs to keep the guy from calling the cops for a few minutes. It seems to work. Chuck ducks down into boat for a moment to grab something quickly, then he strolls down the dock to the neighbor's boat. "Hi, how's it going?" he says, all friendly like. "I'm sure we can come to some sort of quiet arrangement about what you think you just saw." He reaches into his bathrobe as though he's going to come out with a checkbook, which seems entirely reasonable to the old man. But the Senator instead draws out a flare gun, which he quickly jams into the man's mouth and fires… then follows up by grabbing the man's binoculars and turning the neck strap into a garrote. He can't help it. He's done with putting up with all of this. He needs another drink.
The fiddly outboard motor on the skiff is giving Gus some real trouble out in the middle of Kaku Inlet, which is merely an annoyance at first… but then something thumps against the underside of the skiff. Something big bangs into the hull from down in the water. Gus scowls… then the boat gets hit again. And again. Gus suddenly starts to worry, pulls harder on the starter, works it harder… but really, only Mikey Mac knows how to reliably coax the engine into life. Gus pulls and pulls even as something large in the water grabs hold of the skiff, starts dragging it on the water faster and faster… then, in one sudden move, pulls both boat and Gus under the icy surface.
Light twilight begins to become deep dusk.
14. Mikey Mac
Mike and Ron Lawson are tearing back into town on the forest road as the dim begins to close in. They're driving too fast - and suddenly, something moves into the road. Naked girl! Mike grabs at the wheel to swerve them and, just like the old man in the pickup truck before, they crash and flip. When the car comes to a rest, Ron is looking pretty dead, and Mikey is blacking out… but before unconscious takes him, he sees the naked girl approach their wreck. She leans over to look into the trashed, bloody cabin interior… then takes a picture with a camera and walks away into the dark woods.
Leon has survived the icy water. He pulls himself back onto the houseboat on the opposite side from his brother and the gangplank - the side that leads into his brother's half of the boat, his brother's room. There, dripping water on everything, he finds charts and maps everywhere… paperwork about property purchases, couriered letters… Survey information about Kaku Inlet. Exactly as he suspected: his brother knows something about the inlet. He looks out the window and maybe sees, down the marina, as Chuck murders the old neighbor, then comes strolling back up to the houseboat. Chuck sees Leon, dripping but alive. "I thought we agreed that you don't come into my room," the Senator intones. Leon points at all the charts and papers: "Just tell me the truth, Chuck. Just tell me… what's going on with Kaku Inlet?" Chuck narrows his eyes: "You want the truth?" He ponders for a minute. "Actually, you can easily handle the truth. There's oil, Leon. Kaku Inlet is full of oil. But I had to concoct a cover story to keep my rivals looking in the wrong place - rivals like old Gus Carmichael, out there 'fishing' every day with Mikey Mac, looking for oil based on fake leaks and false information. Mikey's in on it, of course. He's been working for me. Everyone's been working for me." Leon's jaw drops: his every paranoid suspicion confirmed… and yet somehow, the whole thing is so mundane as to be almost uninteresting. But what about the guy with the truck, and the drowned naked girl? "I have no idea, Leon," the Senator says. "That's not part of the plan."
16. Senator Penderhouse
Just then, there is the sound of car wheels rolling to a stop on the gravel above the dock. More visitors? Senator Chuck peeks slightly through the window… and sees the worst trouble yet: Russians. Oh shit. Maybe it wasn't just political scandal that the Senator was hiding out from. They're packing serious hardware: guns, and a rocket launcher. They waste no time in locking and loading. The Senator turns back to Leon: "We have to get off the boat RIGHT NOW. Back in the water!" Leon shakes his head: "Man, I ain't getting back in that water for *nothing*." Chuck grabs Leon and forcibly pushes him off the backside of the boat, then jumps in after him, as the Russians open fire and the houseboat is rapidly reduced to splinters…
1. Mikey Mac is found in the wrecked car. No sign of Ron's body. He spills his guts to the cops about everything. "Ask the Senator. The Senator knows. He'll tell you." But, strangely, the Senator is not answering his phone at the houseboat…
2. Jan Eastman's body washes ashore and becomes a national story. A whole lot of law enforcement interest in little Skagway, Alaska all of a sudden.
3. It turns out yet another nosy neighbor saw the Senator kill the previous nosy neighbor. He's not out of the water long before he is picked up on suspicion of murder.
4. At the Senator's murder trial, Leon is unable to explain how he was on the houseboat and yet saw nothing of his brother murdering their neighbor. Leon might be telling the truth. He might really not remember.
5. Mikey Mac saves his own skin by turning hostile witness as well. Lays out the whole oil deception angle. Everyone knows, but nobody can prove, that a fat envelope of cash, perhaps from the Russians, helped make this inevitable.
6. TV news in the jail: The dead guy in the truck turns out to have had a healthcare scam involving gullible women with terminal conditions, convincing them the Inlet had magical restorative powers.
7. A manhunt is on for Gus Carmichael and the skiff, but neither turn up.
8. A newspaper article about new Russian oil exploration in the area around Skagway - but one of their boats went missing in Kaku Inlet.
9. A Russian oil/mob goon in his hotel room. A dark shadow emerges from the bathroom to strike, breaks the goon's neck. Holy shit: it's a reanimated Gus!
10. The naked chicks talking amongst themselves in an undisclosed location about "dealing with" the Americans, the Russians, and whoever else gets involved. "The Purity" must be maintained.
11. The Senator is executed without appeal for murder with special circumstances. Irony: the Penderhouse Bill, which he sponsored and eagerly signed before leaving office, expedites the execution.
12. Mikey Mac can't get anymore work in Skagway. Everyone knows he sold out everyone to the Senator, and then sold out the Senator. And he doesn't have a boat anymore, even. What good is he?
13. Through a rather clever bit of last will & testament finagling, the Senator's funeral works around a loophole in the environmental laws and his body is tipped into Kaku Inlet.
14. Mikey Mac is back in Juneau, a junkie and a dealer, selling coke to his old oil industry buddies. They don't even acknowledge that they know him.
15. Some months later, Leon is looking for a new place to live still when his brother, the Senator, shows up very much alive. "Okay," he admits, "maybe there was a little more to Kaku Inlet than just the oil."
16. Years later, Gus is a frightening legend. "The Guster" is a terrible revenant bogeyman that Alaskan parents use to scare their kids into behaving themselves...
SONG: "Senator Penderhouse"
Mike, player of Senator Chuck Penderhouse, wrote a happy little pop song about our game a couple of weeks later. Lyrics and music are copyright 2012 by Michael Trent.
What's this commotion?
My brother's in a fight with his friend
It's not the end
What did they see there?
They need to know the hows and whens
And what happened then
I turned to my brother, and said
Mikey Mac's got it covered
You can just leave it to me
I'm looking out for you
Man about the houseboat
Tell me now, Penderhouse
What's at Kaku Inlet?
Tell me now, Penderhouse
All the small people
They need to know the things I do
Oh yes they do
He's always watching
Well he can watch me take his time
Oh is it a crime?
I buy the man's silence
With a smile and some violence
Just me and my flare gun
We're looking out for you
Man about the houseboat
Tell me now, Penderhouse
Oh, what's at Kaku Inlet?
Tell me now, Penderhouse
Do I hear Russian oil me?
I knew this business had to end.
Submachines and RPGs
All of this for just one houseboat? Please…
But I won't let them
No I won't let them
I won't let them hurt my brother!
Here at my trial
That Mikey Mac done sold me out
Death, no appeal
And that is such a bitter pill
I signed that bill
With no further objection
I feel the final injection
I turn to my brother and say
I'm looking out for you
Man about the houseboat
Tell me now, Penderhouse
What's at Kaku Inlet?
Tell me now, Penderhouse
There's oil at Kaku Inlet
Tell me now, Penderhouse
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
There's oil at Kaku Inlet
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
That's all there is…
For consideration: one of the nice things about four-player Fiasco is that you can end up with characters only indirectly screwing each other, but never directly meeting, as they are diagonal opposites across the table. Gus Carmichael and Leon Penderhouse pretty much never even knew each other existed...
For many months now, there has been a standing plan between Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, Wil Wheaton, and myself to eventually get together for a game of Fiasco. There have been numerous instances where any two of the four of us were in proximity, but Emerald City Comic-Con was the first time three were together at once - Ed and Matt and Wil all there for official reasons. So, with the opportunity that close, I grabbed a quick flight up to Seattle to see some other friends who also aren't often all together in one place, visit my cousin's family - and, yes, play Fiasco.
( It sounds less ridiculous if you think of it as an overnight vacation and not "flying two hours each way to play a game".Collapse )
Some Additional Thoughts
It was, as you might imagine, precisely the blast we were hoping for. And we even wrapped up, like, before midnight.
There ain't nothing that injects that little extra sense of setting into a game like a good prop - Fraction's phone recording of the tsunami siren, in this case.
Speaking of props... If only we'd known in advance, man, how awesome would it have been to have a real death mask of William McKinley to pull out? We should scare one of those up for the future, just in case.
I wish we had a picture of Wil acting out the knife carving ritual on his chest.
Everyone finding their character's "face" was great - Wil settling into Luke's stone-cold fuck-you-up Luke expression, Ed's sliding drowsy lucid-then-incoherent Todd, Matt's wide-eyed frantic fight-or-flight Frank. I hope whatever face I had for Cedric was half so good.
I continue to think it's tricky to insure that the Tilt elements come into the game doing what they're supposed to do - twist the direction of the story, not just add flavor to scenes you're already planning to do - without really specific effort to do so. Maybe requiring that the first two scenes of the second act each include one of the Tilts? More experimentation still needed there.
Most of my Fiasco experience has been with three players, which makes for tightly wound trouble. Wil's tried five and said it's pretty unmanageable. But four is nice. Four means that you have a couple, just a couple, of character combos with no direct relationship to each other, which means the potential for mayhem between people who never even cross paths but not a whole sea of unconnections.
I didn't step foot on the convention floor, not even for a minute, which I regret now. I heard lots of good about the show, and missed at least as many friends as I managed to see. So next year, I think I may try to hit the convention for real. And maybe we can get the band together for another game.
His art vision for
A galaxy far away
Made our one better.
For consideration: between him and Syd Mead, childhood me knew exactly what and where and when he wanted to be
My 100th birthday. The alarm wakes me five minutes before my younger self materializes.
He’s unpleasantly surprised. “The plan was for you to be asleep.”
“I know the plan. Duh. Plan’s off. Everything was wrong. Don’t do it!”
He looks confused. I remember the feeling. “Did you… I mean me… lie to me on our 80th, then?”
“I felt differently then, but now I want to live!”
His discomfort is growing. “But… But…” Poor kid. But he needs to learn.
Finally, I can’t help but grin: “Just kidding. Plan’s on.”
“Yeah. Let’s go!”
He raises the disintegrator. “Happy birthday!”
For consideration: "It's clear you're very much alive / It's 2105."
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