OOC – Black Friday the 13th

One unexpected side effect of starting a WordPress blog is the many other blogs I’ve started reading.  There’s a few oddballs in the mix but they generally fall into three categories –

RPG blogs (mostly D&D since that’s the most popular RPG by a substantial margin these days) that I read to get ideas for RPGs and to shake my head at how the young people play RPGs these days and lament that the world I grew up in in gone.

Movie review blogs that I read because I enjoy how upset everyone gets by each new Marvel movie (and Star Wars to a lesser degree) because it RUINED everything because there was a female character in it. 

And horror movie blogs.  I enjoy the occasional horror movie but I am by no means a big horror guy.  My sister is a huge horror movie fan.  She honestly tries to see EVERY horror movie that comes out each year.  It’s crazy.  I like reading these blogs because I enjoy how into it people are.  People who are really into horror movies are REALLY into horror movies.  There’s been so much written about Friday the 13th and what’s really going on there and which movies should be “canon” that there should be a Wu-Tang American Tale style documentary about it. 

This is how I learned that Friday the 13th Part 9: Jason Goes to Hell is generally reviled by the Jasonheads out there.  I get why you wouldn’t like it, if you’re really into the Jasonverse, making Jason a Deadite and the Voorhees family Deadite cultists does pretty much overturn the mythology they had going.  It’s not as bad a Midi-chlorians to Star Wars people but its close. 

As a casual horror fan though I love Jason 9 the most, and not because of the Deadite thing, even though I am a fan of the Evil Dead.  I love it because of the opening scene. 

If you’re not familiar the opening scene is a sexy lady (the same actress who did the nude karate fight in Point Break which was the greatest thing I had ever seen when I was a young fella) going up to Camp Crystal Lake alone.  She goes into a creepy old cabin and immediately gets naked.  Which of course is how you summon Jason.  Sidenote, I one time wrote a Friday the 13th script where a lady gets naked and Jason doesn’t show up and it makes her self-conscious that she’s not attractive enough to get the attention of a supernatural killing machine.  That’s probably not okay anymore but I think that was in 1998 so I’ll forgive myself on your behalf. 

Anyway, Jason shows up and nudity 2-shoes dodges the machete attack and after falling off a balcony onto a coffee table she springs away like a gazelle.  At some point she wraps herself in a towel because as we learned from Zombieland no one wants to see a naked woman running full speed. 

Jason chases after her and she leads him into a trap where a small army of FBI dudes shoot Jason to pieces with an illogically wide array of firearms.  Also they appear to be in each other’s line of fire, but whatever.  Dudes even quick-rope down trees with assault rifles to get in on the action.  And then the pièce de résistance, after shooting Jason several hundred times the FBI guys all hit the deck and they finish him off with a mortar attack.

This is awesome.  But it also does what any great film does, it makes us think.  What did the FBI know about Jason?  And what does that imply?  Some people (you know the type) have tried to say that the FBI was just going after a serial killer, but to them I say – you don’t have small artillery  weapons for close fire support at the ready to blow up a serial killer.  Even in the 90’s you’d get in a lot of trouble for that.  To me this clearly indicates that they knew they were dealing with something supernatural. 

I submit that the FBI had collected all the details of the many times Jason has been dealt “fatal” wounds and shook them off, and the times that he had “died” and come back.  And based on this they decided to try some good old fashioned heavy firepower.  Let’s blow this fucker up with a mortar and see what happens. 

So, we have to wonder, is this the first time the FBI acknowledges and deals with a supernatural threat?  If not was there a special unit that deals with that kind of thing?  This is what I need to know more about.  Has there been some FBI agent out there (Mulder?) for 20 years trying to get attention to this Jason Vorhees thing and someone finally paid attention to him? 

Or was the FBI supernatural kill unit born after the federal raid on Innsmouth, Massachusetts in 1928?  These are the questions I want answered.  Were the people that killed Jason (he came back don’t worry) working on a pill to protect teenagers from Freddie Kruger and other dream masters?  Were they trying to figure out a way to harness the power of the Hellrasier dimension to create portal that would generate unlimited free clean energy?  Did they have a Chucky operation in the works? 

The Chucky angle is especially interesting.  Eddie Caputo is a serial killer who manages to voodoo throw his soul into a doll.  I have to assume the FBI was already on his trail since they deal with serial killers, and the information that voodoo can throw souls around is something that it seems like they would be interested in.  Not very PC since voodoo is a real religion, but what can you do?  If not Innsmouth maybe the FBI magic division came sprang from the Chucky case and they started recruiting people with knowledge of African diaspora religions to build their new squad. 

And what about the army?  When they heard about Jason did they want to learn his secrets so they could build an army of nigh-invulnerable Jason-like soldiers to take out the Russians?  Did the FBI have to work against them as well to prevent that horrific dabbling?  What did POTUS have to say about it?  What about the Supreme Court?  Does the Bill of Rights extend to supernatural entities?  Does Jason have civil rights? 

But that’s not even the most interesting question raised by Jason 9.  The real story I want to know is what the heck is going on with Creighton Dukes?   

So Dukes goes out to Camp Crystal Lake as a teen and Jason murders his girlfriend so he dedicates his life to learning about how to defeat him.  Uh, excuse me?  How does one study Jason?  Where does that information come from?  Is there a Jason section in the library I don’t know about? 

And why does he break that dorky dude’s fingers as “payment” for telling him what the hell is going on?  Is he magic and he draws power from pain?  He later produces a magic dagger that is the only way to kill Jason.  I submit that he’s a magic man and he made that dagger.  His girlfriend was murdered and he traveled the world Dr. Strange style looking for true magic and he found it.  And now he lives in an armored compound and has brought in six serial killers as a bounty hunter.  I want to know more about this dude. 

He tells Jessica Kimble that she’s the only one who can kill Jason because she’s actually Jaon’s niece.  How would he know that?  Because he’s the one who did the magic on the dagger of course.  It all makes sense. 

And while we’re on the subject of the Kimbles, Diana Kimble is Jason’s half-sister, the daughter of Elias Voorhees.  We don’t know much about Elias Vorhees, but we do know that he’s “far more evil than Jason” and he was killed by Momma Vorhees for beating Jason.  Oh, and we know that his great-great-great-grandfather was a warlock who was maybe burned alive when girls started going missing in Salem Massachusetts. 

So Diana is the daughter of this dude and whom?  And how did it all go down?  Does she really not know the deal?  She was hanging around Crystal Lake working at a diner, can that be coincidence?  Was there waiting for the day the dude with the magic dagger would show up so she could kill Jason?  She tells the dorky dude I mentioned before that they need to talk about Jessica.  She’s killed before she can give much exposition but that implies that she knew something about what was going on.  Is she magic too?  Was her mother a witch?  Did she specifically seek out Elias to get pregnant because he knew that only a Vorhees could kill Jason and she was getting the bloodline going for that specific purpose?  I need to know. 

Other stuff post – a third of an idea for nothing

There’s probably a way this story could be wedged into the Grace blog but I don’t think it would work best with the main character not being the focal point.  Which is kind of the flaw with the Grace blog overall, often when I think of an interesting (to me) magic premise, it has her being more of an observer than an active participant.  I’ll probably do nothing with this idea.

There’s this lady you see and she’s just hanging out doing lady stuff.  Based on every sitcom ever that probably means she’s either putting lotion on her hands or folding laundry.  Sitcom ladies love putting on lotion and folding laundry.  Then her wedding ring starts thrumming.  As you might imagine she finds this disconcerting.  Actually yeah, let’s go with the lotion idea, she takes the ring off for the lotion and then said ring starts vibrating and hopping around on the nightstand.  That would be cool. 

WTFF she thinks (you know what the extra F is for) and she grabs the ring as it pops up into the air of its own accord.  Before she can get too freaked out about that though she suddenly knows “oh shit my husband is in trouble” and his exact location pops into her head.  She hops into the car and tears off down the street.  She has a little trouble with the wheel because her hands are slick from all that lotion but she manages.

As she’s driving, the location in her mind is moving and she eventually realizes that she’s heading for the hospital.  Uh-oh, Spaghetti-Os she thinks.  She gets to the hospital and runs in and asks the lady at the counter (are those always nurses or do they have administrator people hanging around?) if her husband is there and when they’re trying to help her and/or blow her off she follows her mental homing beacon into the ER where her husband is all ripped up.

“You can’t be in here!” someone shouts and they push her out the door.  A doctor comes out and says her husband was in a car wreck and they did everything they could but he’s dead, deader than every dead dog that ever died.  She’s sad, funeral happens, sadness, etc.  She mostly forgets about the whole crazy wedding ring thing because it’s so sad.

But then one day she sighs and goes to do something with the big plastic bag of her husband’s stuff they gave her at the hospital and when she pulls out his wedding ring, both rings go bonkers and start shining with a bright light and spinning around and flying around and what have you.  Which is pretty freaky but she’s still too sad to care much about it.

The very next day a dude shows up at the house and he’s all like “Your husband and I were old pals and he told me if he ever died suddenly that I needed to come tell you a secret”.  And she’s not into it because she’s like “I know all my husband’s friends and I’ve never seen you before” and he says they hadn’t seen each other in a long time but he has something really important he has to tell her so she has to let him in right now.

She’s not buying it but she says “go ahead and tell me then if you have something to say” and he barges in and tries to rip the ring off her finger.  I’ll say she’s wearing both rings at this point, that seems like something a fictional person would do if their spouse died.  Maybe even a real person would do that.  If I want things to get really hardcore, he has some tin snips and he tries to cut her finger off to get the rings.  Point is, they tussle and she gets her gun because she’s in the coast guard?  Do you get a sidearm in the coast guard?  Maybe she’s in the naval reserve. 

Anyway the guy goes ‘bleeeeeeeaghhhhhh!” and runs at her like dudes like to do in movies when ladies have guns and she plugs him.  And she’s all like WTFFF?

The cops turn up and she’s telling them about it and one of the uniformed officers is like “I need to take these rings for evidence” and she’s like “What?  Why?  How are the rings evidence?” and then she does some Sherlock Holmes stuff and realizes that this dude is not a real cop.  He notices her noticing his uniform and he’s like “I’m actually an auxiliary policeman so that’s why my buttons look weird” or whatever the thing is that she Sherlocks. 

She calls out to the lead detective and is like “What’s the deal with this guy trying to take my rings?” and the dude bolts and it’s a whole thing. 

That’s a decent first part of a story, but like most of my ideas it’s really a third of an idea.  Her husband was a magic man because magic is real and there’s secret magic people out there.  He enchanted their wedding rings so he’d know if she ever got into trouble but without intending to it also worked the other way round – she was alerted when he was injured.  Now that he’s dead these other evil magic people want these rings because he was pretty dang magic and he put most of his magic into the rings and they’re a valuable commodity. 

So I have a first act and an antagonist and that’s about it.  What happens then?  That’s generally as far as I get with story ideas and I wonder, once again, if that’s because I’ve spent so much time running RPGs.  In an RPG, a set-up and a bad guy is usually all you need.  The players don’t need much incentive to send them running off in every direction doing all kinds of stuff, much of it insane in the membrane. And by all kinds of stuff I mean mostly violence.  Spending time building out story beyond that can be an exercise in frustration because 77% of the time you’re never going to anticipate which way the PCs are going to jump.  It’s uncanny how good players are at unconsciously thwarting the GM. 

The Dream Police

That song is by Cheap Trick, I never would have remembered that.

I’ve updated the character sheet and made some site changes if anyone is interested. I remember in the D&D Ela phase people asked me for a character sheet ALL the time (because it was so popular you see) and then when I finally put one up I don’t think anyone ever looked at it.

I’ll probably start posting some stuff for Ela story #3 this week.

Here’s some stuff that was left on my comic book Ela idea pad when she died –

Liberator pistol, not sure what I wanted to do here other than I found out about it and thought it was neat

Shark people, I forgot exactly what the idea was here, I think Martialla was going to hate them but they were actually allies

Malibu Al – a shady used car salesman guy from back home who was in Madripoor running from trouble back in the states

Red Viper – A retired supervillianess who robbed banks for the commies, to bring down capitalism you see, I think I stole this idea from Icons

Australia’s first combat cyborg – I’m not sure why I started picking on Australia, but I was going to continue with that

The shapeshifter guy was going to turn up again, somehow?

Saving Maggie was going to involve a Bullseye rip-off called Pinpoint, two people who are really good at throwing shit fighting? Thrilling!

Ela narration about how much she misses sugar, basically the same thing as I did with Coke. Why do it again? Shrug.

Ela bumps into a supervillian during some kind of wild melee and it turns out to be her estranged sister! Why is she a supervillian now? And how did she get powers? We’ll never know now I guess.

When Ela and friends stormed the prison where the Duke was supposed to be they were going to kill him and then find out he was a clone and the real Duke was alive and well! Comic books!

Some people really hate when other people talk about dreams. It’s generally not the best conversation fodder I admit. One of my friends loves talking about dreams the most, and my other friend hates it the most – what a hilariously mismatched pair!

The other night I had a dream that I was talking to an old lady who was a covid researcher. We were talking about covid research and then out of nowhere she tried to stab me in the groin with a syringe. I moved and she hit me in the thigh. The police came and it was a whole thing.

The next night I had a dream that she was standing in my driveway with her syringe waiting to stab me so I called the police. They showed up but she put on a “I’m just a confused old lady act” and the police left. She was still out there saying she was going to get me and air-stabbing with her syringe.

I figured if she showed up in my dreams again that she most likely had to be some kind of Freddie Kruger style dream infiltrator.

Thinking more about it I think she might be the ghost of the old lady that haunts my attic. I guess she has dream powers now? Which is nice for her.

Where do comic book characters go when they die? (Update)

That’s a trick question, comic book characters never die.  I’ve never understood the lyrics to Lake of Fire, what does the 4th of July have to do with souls condemned to the fires of Hell?  Did they pick that just because it rhymes?  Lazy. 

I feel weird and pompous when I give updates – queue Roman from Party Down “People respect my opinion, I have a prestigious blog sir”- but if I don’t post something, surely the few readers I do have would lose their minds and rise up against the government. 

Now that comic book Ela has joined D&D Ela on the fields of Ela-sium (wordplay!), I’m going to take a break before kicking up again with a new Ela.  Maybe I’ll try and do some website updates this weekend and maybe start posting Ela story 3 after that? 

If you can’t live without my awesome stories check out my other blog.  https://agtheshine.com/2021/08/10/bright-lights-bug-city-part-1/ Some people like it. 

My routine is all out of whack.  After crushing my work out because I am such a beast, I thought what do I do now that I don’t have a highly successful blog to curate?  What did I do before I spent a good amount of my free time creating a crummy world of plot holes and spelling errors?  I think I watched TV.  Before streaming came and killed TV. 

Sometimes my girlfriend and I wonder what we did before the lockdown.  Did we go places?  Where did we go?  What did we do?  How did we have time to do that?  Did we like it? 

I’ve started slowly watching World Championship Wrestling from 1987 one episode at a time, I could ratchet that up a notch.  Kick it up to two episodes a night. 

I could watch all the Pitch Meetings, those are pretty funny.  Surely watching hundreds of them in a row wouldn’t get tiresome and turn something I enjoy into something I hate.

I googled “What should I do” and it said to me “Visit a suburb in your city that you’ve never been to before, or somewhere you haven’t explored much.” I have been to ALL the suburbs of the mighty Des Moines Metro but pretty much all of them would count as somewhere I haven’t explored much.  But I’m probably not going to do that.

When I was in college and I had no friends nearby, when I got tired of writing and reading I would drive around sometimes.  This was before entertainment had been invented.  I never much liked it, I was literally just killing time.  They say youth is wasted on the young.  When I think how much of my childhood I spent being bored, that sounds right. 

In a meeting today at work someone said “We’re cooking on the front burner today!”  Is that an expression? 

Anyway, that’s what’s going on with me.  How are you? 

Worldbuilding Wednesday – Alamo 400k

Setting the bar tour aside for a while because it’s basically the same thing as the job interview thread in the main story. I should have realized that a while ago. Oh well. Back to normal worldbuilding.

If you asked the average North American what Alamo 400k is, most would say they’re terrorists (although some people would think ‘heroes’ in the head while they said it) but beyond that, answers would vary.  Some would say they’re anti-globalists.  Some would say they’re anarchists.  Some would say they’re white nationalists.  Some would say they’re anti-NBHs.  Some would say they’re nothing more than a drug cartel.  The stated goal of the Alamo 400k group would surprise many –  

“To provide overt and covert aid to anti-communist guerrillas and resistance movements in an effort to counteract pro-communist movements in Africa, Asia, and South America.” 

The origins of the group would be even more confounding to the “man on the street”.  In the late 1860s, a former Texas Ranger was discovered to be funding and organizing an extralegal secret police force designed to keep the Pecos Republic free of “undesirables” such as labor organizers, anti-capitalists, pacifists, anarchists and the like.  It took until 1870 for the for the legitimate Pecos authorities to uncover the full extent of this network and their operations.   

While a few ringleaders (or scapegoats depending on who you ask) were imprisoned, this organization was incorporated almost wholly into the Pecos government structure in 1871 with the founding of Branch 4, an ill-defined and shadowy organization that has at various times acted as investigative law enforcement, intelligence service, and expeditionary military force.  For the majority of the 19th century, Branch 4 focused on infiltration and intelligence gathering of anarcho-communist organizations and other social anarchists.   

No later than 1920 (but possibly much earlier) Branch 4 began focusing the bulk of its assets on communist groups, most critical including those based outside the Pecos Republic.  Branch 4 was dissolved in 1943 after numerous incidents of unwarranted appropriation of government funds and military matériel, political corruption, and illegal activity on foreign soil.  The core of Branch 4 true believers continued to operate in secret using funds and equipment stashed away in hidden depots for just such an occurrence.   

The former operatives of Branch 4 became associated with the name Alamo 400k after the 1947 San Antonio bombing by South American extremists (retaliating for the Pecos-US air strike on Sao Paulo) which they claim killed 400,000 people (the official number of dead and missing from that attack is closer to 20,000).  It is also variously claimed that 400k refers to the number of members in the group, but no reasonable intelligence agency believes they have even a hundredth that size of organization.    

The decentralized and highly secretive nature of the organization makes it difficult to gather concrete information on.  The widely varied actions it undertakes are evidence of several key members with unaligned personal agendas.  Each of these key leaders seeks to increase their own authority and resources while weakening those of their ideological or personal enemies within the group.

Each claims to have the true vision of what Alamo 400k is and does their best to prove it by games of one-upsmanship and occasionally outright conflict.  Individual agents follow their leader’s example and often compete for power, profits, and prestige.  A successful, high-earning agent gains more influence within the organization than a weaker, less profitable one, and some try to improve their own track records by stealing from or hindering other agents, usually covertly but sometimes openly.

Alamo 400k’s own culture and rules exacerbate this behavior — the best way to find an opportunity for advancement is to create a vacancy yourself. 

Ela’s dead, the final Ela-mare

One time there was this movie called Adventures in Babysitting, the 1987 one I mean, I think they did a remake and I don’t mean that one.  In the movie Adventures in Babysitting, Brenda, played by esteemed character actress Penelope Anne Miller, tries to buy a hot dog from a hot dog cart guy by signing over a third-party check to him.  It is the greatest scene in movie history.   

When I was a kid I loved that movie for a variety of reasons, chief among them because one of the kids being babysat was a girl that liked the Mighty Thor and I didn’t know until then that girls could like comic books.  It was a revelation it was.  I found out later that not many girls like comic books but some of them do. 

It’s the first movie Elizabeth Shue was in, and the first PG-13 rated Disney movie.  There’s a lot of history there.  I know what you’re thinking “wasn’t esteemed character actress Penelope Anne Miller briefly married to Will Arnett?”  Yes, yes she was.  And you’re probably also wondering why Will Arnett and Amy Poehler got divorced.  Sometimes people just fall out of love.  Yes, Canadians are allowed to get divorced, I was surprised too.   

“Jeremy was esteemed character actress Penelope Anne Miller the lead in the movie the Relic?  You know, the lead character that got licked up and down by the titular Relic, which was a cabinet monkey lizard monster?” 

Yes she was, it wasn’t one of her more esteemed character roles.  But she got paid 1.5 million dollars for doing it.  Invested at a 7 percent rate of return, which is generous I admit, that’s 7.6 million dollars today.  A lizard licked me once and I didn’t get a red cent. 

“Jeremy why do you keeping spelling Ann with an E, isn’t that incorrect?” 

Yes it is.   

“Jeremy why wasn’t the Relic a better movie?” 

Well, it’s not like the source material was super strong you know?  And even if it was, the underlying message about museums and their negative role in society and the scientific community isn’t going to be easy to communicate in a movie.  Plus, 1997 was smack dab in the middle of the wonky CGI era so the creature didn’t look great.  I wonder if they used a practical effect tongue for the licking scene.  I wonder further what esteemed character actress Penelope Anne Miller would say about how you drop in to a scene where you’re getting licked by a cabinet lizard monkey monster.  I’ll ask her at the next family reunion. 

Dropping-in is a technique Tina and Kristin Linklater developed in the early 1970s as a method to create a spontaneous emotional connection to your role. 

https://wordsdeferred.com/2021/07/12/filling-plot-holes/

I thought this post about plot holes was pretty good, check it out if you want.  One time I “promoted” a post I thought was neat and the guy that wrote it took the time to message me and tell me that he has 20,000 followers and he doesn’t need me to help him.  I cried for three weeks.  Not because of that, because of the shark hormones I take.  And to be clear, no sharks are being killed to harvest these hormones, they’re taken from humans with shark DNA spliced in.  Which is fine. 

There are probably lots of plot holes in Ela’s narrative because the spine of it is random RPG tables and I don’t have an outline or anything guiding the tale.  There are probably even more unresolved plots.  My other blog is even worse and I don’t even have the excuse of RPG nonsense on that one.  The other day someone said to me “Why don’t you stop this solo campaign bullshit and do some real writing?” and I says to them I says “I don’t have the creativity for that” and then they reminded me of that other blog and that shut me up.  I had forgotten about it.  How did I forget a blog that I post on three times a week and write for almost every day?  Dunno.  But I did.   

For D&D Ela I was content to let the dice dictate everything, hence her sudden and unceremonious death.  For comic book Ela I’ve been more flexible, but I’m at a real crossroads now.  Not to give anything away but decisions need to be made.  Dice or free will? 

I can’t remember if I blogged about this, possibly blogged about it twice, or if I just thought about it and blogged about it no times, but now that I’m back in the swing of TTRPGs I’ve been thinking about running a campaign again.  And what I’ve been thinking is that I don’t know if I will.  I have a lot of desire but more and more I find it a stumbling block that my game friends all like games but they don’t really like the same thing.   

I’ll start planning a modern investigative spooky campaign and then remember that no one likes that but me.  Then I’ll start working on a cyberpunk intrigue-based campaign and then I’ll remember that no one likes that but me.  So then I’ll think about the kind of campaigns they like and I groan because it’s all stuff I don’t like.  My gaming circle is hilariously mismatched like sitcom roommates.   

And I know that it doesn’t really matter, we’ll all get together and have a fun time no matter what, but it’s hard to want to spend a lot of time on shit when you’re the only one who’s really into it.   

There’s a scene in Adventures in Babysitting where Brenda, played by esteemed character actress Penelope Anne Miller, loses her glasses and thinks that a giant rat is a fluffy kitty and tries to pet it.  When I was younger, one time when I didn’t have my glasses on, I thought a baseball cap was our cat TJ.  I couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t come to me because she was super friendly.  It was because she was a baseball cap in that scenario.  And they’re not known for being overly personable.   

Now my eyes are great because I had the laser eyeball surgery.  Also, not for nothing, but I have fantastic knees.  Maybe the best knees in the world.  There’s no way to know for sure.   

The movie Adventures in Babysitting was released with the title A Night On The Town in other countries.  Does that mean babysitting isn’t a thing in other countries?  Or do they call it something else?  Must be the first thing otherwise they would have called it Adventures in BLANK right?   I wonder what that says about American child rearing.  I know the movie Date Night was called Crazy Night in many other countries because date night is an American concept.  I wonder what that means about Americans and our relationships.   

Writing tip of the day – When writing a female character, make sure that in the middle of a scene apropos of nothing you have her start thinking about when she first started “developing”.  That’s totally cool.  Remember that scene in Die Hard when in the middle of a firefight, Bruce Willis starts talking about how he got hair on his balls?  You need to apply that same level of care to female characters.   

Zero tips for overcoming writer’s block (and one for overcoming tennis elbow)

My elbow hurts. I haven’t played tennis in years. I wish I still did. Use an elbow strap to protect the injured tendon from further strain.

I haven’t been very motivated to write recently so I have nothing today. I look down my nose when people post about how they have nothing to post about but I’m nothing if not a hypocrite. I could force myself to write something but since I’m just doing this for fun there’s no reason. WP is 33% posts about what to do about writer’s block, but when you’re just writing as a hobby why not lean into it?

Speaking of WP the other day I logged into something with my e-mail and it said “welcome sopantooth!” It enrages me. Quit connecting all my shit to other shit without my permission, internet.

One time no one asked me about the origin of the name sopantooth. For reasons unknown, I had Spanish toothpaste written down on my “ideas” pad and when I had to create a user name I mangled that into sopantooth. Why didn’t I use my real name? Because I am old.

You see when the internet first became a thing it was all about whacky fake names, no one used their real name on the internet, that would be crazy! You didn’t want people on the internet knowing who you were. You’d be killed for sure! Nowadays the internet is all about detailing every aspect of your real life to people so they can like and subscribe and give you five stars and follow all your social media. But I am slow to adapt.

I started reading The Poppy War, it’s pretty good.

Apples are the only fruit I like that are consistent. I like pears and peaches but they’re too unpredictable – it’s hard to get a good one all the time. At this point in my life I’ve undoubtedly eaten thousands of apples, maybe tens of thousands. And I realized in all that time I don’t think I’ve ever eaten one upside down. I don’t know why, but that really bugs me. It literally makes no difference which way you hold an apple – why do I always put the stem up?

I wondered how monkeys and apes eat apples. Most monkeys don’t have hands big enough to hold an apple so that doesn’t count. From what I saw apes mostly do it like we do, but not always.

Did you know that you can’t fool birds with sleight of hand? I didn’t. Human brains fill in the gaps, which is what stage magic relies on – you didn’t actually see whatever move in the magicians hand but you assume that it happened. Birds only act on what they actually see. So keep that in mind if you ever want to trick a bird.

And yet you can fool dogs by pretending to throw a thing. I suppose because dogs are smarter than birds and paradoxically smartness makes you vulnerable to foolingness.

I read this week that due to new technology, Death Valley is no longer known to be the hottest place on earth. The high temperature there is merely 134 degrees and thanks to new satellite shenanigans they now know that it gets up to 177 in the Sonora desert. Death Valley is therefore now lame. Please adjust accordingly.

If violence isn’t the answer, you misunderstood the question – Madripoor the City (part 1)

• A nosy, meddling reporter for a local newspaper

I’ve already introduced News Dan and the News Dan New Van, but he’s more of the underground conspiracy nut, so let’s have another character on the reporting scene.  If you’re going to have a super-world why not Superman it up?  Let’s say that Lim Boon Keng is a reporter in his civilian identity.  Some people say that having an existing character fill a new role is lazy.  Others say that’s character development.

• A special police division that deals with ‘supercrime’

I haven’t thought much about the Madripoor police other than they don’t care about the poor areas down the hill.  I figured that meant it didn’t matter, but that does mean they do care about the business downtown and the rich people zones.  Rich people have their own goons, but they probably want other people to yell at, too.  I’ll say that there’s not enough need for a full time “supercrime” division, instead the best (most murdery) cops are tagged for being brought together into a task force as needed and they’re totally badass like in the Raid.  The ace of this squad is surely a superperson, I’ll think on that.

• The detective who leads the ‘special task force’ that deals with ‘supercrime’

There has to be someone who keeps tabs on things and pulls the taskforce together when needed.  That will be Captain Raden Wijaya, a former counter-intelligence and anti-terrorist agent with the Indonesian government.  In order to do his job he maintains connections with the various criminal syndicates in Madripoor.  He’s not corrupt though, not really.

• A government agency with a sinister agenda

What manner of sinister agenda could exist in what is already a wretched hive of scum and villainy?  I suppose what it would be is a group that wants Madripoor to lose its independence.  Not a government agency but a secret conspiracy of government officials who want to see Madripoor annexed to the Empire of Japan.  Quislings – is that what you call people like that?  I don’t know but it’s a cool word.

• The premier superteam in The City and their roster

Much like the police, I never thought about Madripoor having a superteam.  But, it doesn’t have to be a superhero team right?  The idea is that there are too many factions and too much money being thrown around for one person or group to take over, but there would still be someone at the top of the super-evil heap even if they’re not in control.  I imagine they would be somewhat reclusive, an alliance of older villains in semi-retirement who came to Madripoor to live out their days in wealth and safety. 

I’ll have to think more about that as well.  One character idea I’ve wanted to work in but couldn’t find a place was a Coalition States communist who thought that robbing banks would help bring down capitalism in the CS but eventually realized they were just wasting their time and gave up.  Seems like a good candidate for this group.

• One ‘independent’ superhero who works the City

I’ve introduced several superpeople of various stripes but not many true blue heroes.  Another half-idea I’ve had is for a super team of aliens ripping off the X-men (how they used to be anyway, I don’t know what they are now) doing the “protecting a world that hates us” thing.  Another kernel to follow up on and flesh out.

• Two Villains who work in The City

Several of these are already in the mix.  But there’s always room for more.  I’ve mentioned a minotaur guy walking around, let’s say he’s one of these two extra villains.  In the Marvel universe there’s a thing called the Unlimited Class Wrestling Federation which is a fighting deal for superpowered people.  It’s never been taken all that seriously aside from giving the Power Broker a reason to give people powers once in a while, but as a wrestling person I find it amusing. 

The “man” calling himself Jefray Kurnia Arwadi actually is THE minotaur of legend, awoken in the modern age (the 70s) from some manner of stasis.  How did they explain Heracles in the Marvel universe?  Was he just supposed to be out and about doing Heracles stuff for a thousand years?  Surely he was asleep in a cave or something.  I’ll have to look into that. 

Anyway minotaur-Jef wakes up and gets involved in a short lived superpowered boxing league and then UCWF before finally making his way to Madripoor to fight other super-people for money.  He’s likes fighting, you see.  How about this, the Minotaur survived to Roman times and got into the gladiator scene and the rich folks got tired of him winning all the time so they had a sorceress put him to sleep for a thousand years and chucked him down a mine shaft.  They had mines.  But did they have shafts?  There’s so much about Ancient Roman mining I don’t know

A while ago someone asked me why there are not many African superheroes and my idea was that the colonial powers employed a super-squad of hitmen to kill any African people with powers to help prevent them from becoming symbols for the African people and fomenting revolution.  In recent times, this group has been destroyed and one of the survivors is our second guy here – coming to Madripoor to hide from the many people that want him dead.  He’s not a white supremacist himself but just an amoral mercenary.  I shall name him Steelwing.

• A rival evil organization with an unknown agenda

Ela isn’t really an “organization” but I have thought it would be amusing for her to run into a super-powered singer who’s rich and famous to really torque her off.  I’ll flesh that out some more.  She shall be called Songbird.  Which is a little on the nose, but hey, comic books right?

OOC – The City

Do I still need to put OOC on these things? It’s always clear right? I guess I should so people can skip them if they want. Or only read them maybe.

“Ah, the City. I will spread my buttery justice over your every nook and cranny.” – The Tick

I recently purchased an RPG called Henchmen from Canterbury Games Studio.  It’s one of many cool games that I’ll probably never play.  The idea, as you can probably guess, is that you’re the minions of a supervillain trying to survive and become elite mooks.  For me it’s the right amount of tongue-in-cheek without being full on silly. 

There’s a section about creating you city that I think can be helpful for writing and roleplaying both.  The worldbuilding between the two isn’t exactly the same as I’ve very geniusly pointed out before but there’s a lot of overlap, my genius notwithstanding. 

When I’m playing an RPG what really gets me engaged, especially in a modern or future setting, is a city that seems like a real place.  It’s somewhat less important to me when I’m reading but it’s still always kind of a breaker when the story takes place somewhere that doesn’t seem like a real place.

Here’s there’s list of things you should come up with to populate your city, all credit given to Canterbury Games Studio mea culpa etc.  It’s superhero focused of course, but I still think it’s a good way to get the ideas popping around.

• A nosy, meddling reporter for a local newspaper

• A special police division that deals with ‘supercrime’

• The detective who leads the ‘special task force’ that deals with ‘supercrime’

• A government agency with a sinister agenda

• The premier superteam in The City and their roster

• One ‘independent’ superhero who works the City

• Two Villains who work in The City

• A rival evil organization with an unknown agenda

• The heads of the three richest families in The City

• The mayor and chief of police – to give harried no comments to the news anchor

• A TV news anchor – for when the henchmen see their crimes on the news

• A famous rock/pop star, who is really ‘big’ in The City

• A famous industrialist

• Two ‘ordinary’ criminal gangs

• A no-questions-asked fleapit hotel

• A major hospital

• A university with an active research department

• A bank with extensive vaults

• Three facilities, like labs or factories, that work on advanced technology, experimental science or chemicals

• The docks and/or an airport where foreign material and individuals can enter or leave the city

• An infamous prison, holding facility or insane asylum

• A casino, either legitimate or illegitimate depending on the laws of the city

• The fanciest hotel in the city

• A slum with a sinister or ironic nickname where the police only go in force

• A bar or club where the lowlifes hang out

• A bar or club that only the elite can enter

• A public park or open space – good for covert meetings and public showdowns

• The known public headquarters of a superhero or superteam

• A district full of the mansions and houses of the elite

• A big public entertainment venue such a stadium or concert hall

• The City’s biggest shopping district

• The City’s financial district

• The headquarters of a major news organization

Bot seeking bot

That’s a Venture Brothers reference.  I was pretty bummed when that show got cancelled even though they only made one episode every 3.5 years.  Now I hear they’re making a Venture Brothers movie on HBO.  I’m cautiously optimistic (name of my sex tape).  If it’s just more Venture Brothers, I’ll probably like it.  If the movie is supposed to “wrap-up” everything from the show, I probably won’t.  That never works.  I’m looking at you, Peacekeeper Wars.  Even though it was a financial failure, Serenity is the way to do it. It didn’t put Firefly to rest, it was just an interesting Firefly story.  Sure, it was kind of dumb because they had to narrate and reset everything for people that hadn’t watched the show, but it was good.

“Jeremy, you’re not really keeping your promise to subject us to 70% less content on this blog”.

I know, but it’s not that much more and what I didn’t anticipate (always in motion, the future is) is that I would get mad at DIRECTV and cancel my service with them and since I don’t like any of the streaming services, I watch 70% less TV now.  And further, since my only other time-consuming hobby is running RPGs which I’m not doing currently, something has to give.

“Jeremy, just because you write something doesn’t mean you have to post it.”

Trust me I don’t, I write tons of stuff that I just then delete and everyone’s happy.  But this has to do with my fellow wordpressarians.  Ergo.

I have 169 “followers”.  I’d say at least 100 of them are bots.  Probably more. I assume that most other people have a similar situation, but one time I said something like that to a fellow wordpresser and they got real mad at me.  Maybe all of your followers are legit.  I don’t know.  I mean no offense.  I know that mine are not. 

What I don’t understand is what the value of those bots are.  I understand why dating sites use bots, it makes it seem like there’s people on there you could meet.  And I understand why there are bots on social media, but what are all these fake wordpress accounts for? 

Normally I get zero new followers in a week, this week I had 15 – all of them bots, randomly generated user names with the same picture of a blandly attractive blond lady.  Why are these accounts being created?  Since I don’t try to make money in wordpress, I don’t understand how it works.  For the people that are monetizing wordpress, does it makes sense to have bot followers?  I know bots are used to click-generate ad revenue, is it something like that?

The only thing I know about the financial part of WP is that if I get 75,000 followers, I can get a free merchant account of some kind to sell all the Ela merch I’m obviously creating (I guess that would be a time consuming hobby).  The only way I could ever get that many followers is with bots.  Is that reason enough for someone to make bots?  Seems like if you can make bots, you could come up with a better scam. 

Do they only make bots so they can sell you bot-blocker plugins?  That doesn’t seem very lucrative.  Why would you want to bot-block? Even though I know it’s fake, I can look at that 169 number and pretend I’m cool.  I suppose there’s probably bots that are actually malicious and can do bad shit to your site.  I guess I should look into getting rid of them. 

It’s probably just collateral damage, it’s easier to bot-spam everything everywhere in the hopes of hitting something of value rather than making targeted attacks.