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Messages - Baron

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....And we're closed.  Thanks to all the competitors who submitted a story this round!  They are, in alphabetical order:

Mandle with "God" Is Just "Job" In The Mirror
Sinitrena with Arnaud‘s Art

Voting will be in the following categories:

Best Rant (aloud or thought)
Most Unique Thingy that is Popular
Most Insight Into the Psyche (attempts to explain the rationality of following the crowd or bucking the trend)
Least Meh Atmosphere (a combination of writing style and word choice)
Most Entertaining Whateverness (best story)

Sorry for the extra category thrown in there, but I feel with only two entrants that we need an odd number of categories to avoid the likelihood of a tie.

Voting will be open until Wednesday January 14, with votes tabulated the following day.

Good luck to all contestants!

Sweet criminy, that deadline sure creeps up on you!  I'll leave the comp open for 24 hours as of this post if anyone wants to make a last ditch effort to enter. 

It's probably just my messy handwriting, but to me "god" looks an awful lot like "boe" with a really big "e" in the mirror. (nod)  Something to contemplate for a future "through the looking glass" theme.  In the mean time, we have approximately 5 more days to receive up to nine more submissions.  Get them in while the getting's good! :)

The Rumpus Room / Re: World history quiz thread
« on: 10 Jan 2018, 01:42 »
Correct, of course.  In further trivia, I am apparently a very distant descendant of hers.  So keep your eyes off granny's tits! :=

The Rumpus Room / Re: World history quiz thread
« on: 09 Jan 2018, 02:09 »
This eleventh century noblewoman is reputed to have ridden naked through the streets of Coventry to protest high taxation. :=

If you've ever been to Coventry you probably know her from her statuary.  If not, her name has also been adopted as a popular corporate brand. (nod)

The Rumpus Room / Re: World history quiz thread
« on: 07 Jan 2018, 02:15 »
I'm pretty sure it was the Bling dynasty.... :P

Greatness is what people make of it.  If enough people think something is great, then it becomes great.  But in this era of counter culture and alternative narratives why should we accept what the majority thinks?  Ten men's idea of the greatest thing of all time may solicit only a colossal "meh" from the eleventh.  Circumstances have thus aligned to create a...

Great Whatever

Your story should feature something amazing that most people think is awesome, but someone prominent in your story finds boring, mundane, inane, contemptible, or outright vacuous.  Your special something can be an event (New Years, Valentine's, Birthday, etc.), a piece of art (music, movie, book, etc.), a person (celebrity, sports star, etc.), fad (type of dance, fashion style, way of talking, etc.), or object (whizzbang, doodad, widget, etc.).  Obviously something boring might make for a bad read, so don't be afraid to ham up either the event or the reaction to make it more entertaining.

Possible voting categories include: Best Rant (aloud or thought), Most Unique Thingy that is Popular, Most Insight Into the Psyche (attempts to explain the rationality of following the crowd or bucking the trend), Most Entertaining Whateverness (best story).

Deadline is Friday January 19, 2018.

Good luck to the vast and teeming hordes of potential entrants.  Please be advised that we will only be able to accept the first ten valid submissions, so don't delay and start today! ;-D

Lame schmame!  Victory by default! ;-D ;-D ;-D

Ponch is no doubt still nursing an epic Texas-sized New Years hangover.  It may yet be several days before he's well enough to string some words together.  It'd be best just to give ALL TEH TROPHIEZ TO MEEEEE!!!!

The Rumpus Room / Re: World history quiz thread
« on: 31 Dec 2017, 15:50 »
We have a winner! ;-D  When Enrico Dandolo, well over ninety years old, blind, and Doge of Venice, heard his troops faltering in their siege of the sea-walls of Constantinople, he had his galley rowed forward to personally lead the attack.  Kinda puts my blind great-grandfathers' penchant for bridge and womanizing to shame.... (roll)

Ho ho ho!  It looks like several people will be furiously typing up their entries with a pounding hangover, er, hanging over them. (roll)

My entry is a sequel to Coal Squad, a story I wrote an astonishing five years ago for this very competition.  I'm not one for repeating backstory, especially in a short story format, so if you can't piece together what is happening then you'll have to go back and read episode one to get your bearings.  Basically Coal Squad is the policing arm of Santa's operation that deals with giving coal to naughty folk.  They get a naughty list from CI5 (Christmas Intelligence) and bring retribution to the undeserving.  They're kind of a band of misfits with a critically important job, but they don't really fit in with the rest of elf society.

Coal Squad 2: Retribution Resolution

22:30 GMT 2017-12-24   Aleppo, Syria

   The night was black but for the occasional streak of tracer bullets.  An odd snowflake fell here and there, cold as the hearts of men, but melting to a child's tear drop on the dusty and blood-spattered ground.  The city cowered in the darkness as the occasional shell crashed through the ruins of the once prosperous streets.  And above it all flew a sleigh as silently as a stealth bomber.

   “Geez, what a shithole!” sneered Pidowski, a middle-aged elf sporting a fat belly and a thin moustache.  “What's the point of coaling someone when their house is crumbling down on top of them?”

   “You wanna park that fat ass of yours behind a desk in the Assessment Bureau to write the Naughty List yourself, Pidowski?” growled a mangy green creature in a sad imitation of a Santa Claus suit.

   “No sir, Captain Grinch!” Pidowski replied.  “Those desks aren't equipped for agents of my calibre!”

   Captain Grinch ignored the remark.  Pidowski had a sack of sass as bottomless as Santa's magic bag, but underneath the sass and lard he had a heart of pure gold.  The Grinch motioned for the rest of the squad to gather around.  Beside Pidowski was Garcia, another elf and thirty-five year vet, still quick as a Boxing Day shopper and solid as a frozen Toblerone bar.  Then there was Krampus, half elf and half goat, twirly beard blowing in the wind and a harsh edge to his stare.  Finally there was Green Melvin, another elf five years in the force but still learning the ropes.

   “Here's the intel,” barked the Grinch.  “Arms-dealing bastard playing both sides off each other.  Wife abuses the servants and sleeps around on the side.  Got a spoilt little daughter who bullies the neighbourhood children.  Our orders are to go in and coal with extreme prejudice.”

   The vets started checking their coal scuttles and holstering them securely, but Green Melvin as always picked an inopportune moment to ask awkward questions.  “Sir?  We're hitting one family in this sea of misery?  There's gotta be thousands of culpable naughties down there!”

   “Out of our jurisdiction,” the Grinch shouted.  “Naughty Muslims get goat-turded every second day throughout Ramadan by our affiliates down in the South Pole!”

   “That doesn't make any sense,” Green Melvin started.  “We hit the Buddhists, the Atheists, and the-”

   “Sense?!?” the Grinch screamed.  “Sense!?!  This is Coal Squad, soldier, not religion class!  Some people choose to believe in a jolly fat guy with elf minions and others choose to believe in a jolly porpoise with penguin minions and who are you or I to tell them otherwise!”

   “Er,” Melvin grasped, “I'm pretty sure the Muslims don't believe in-”

   “Have you ever discussed the Jolly Porpoise with a Muslim, son?!” the Grinch spat.

   “Uh, no sir.  But-”

   “Have you ever cut a Muslim open to peer into the deepest depths of their soul to see what they truly believe?!” the Grinch bawled.   

     “....No.” Melvin admitted, glancing sideways at his squad mates who were trying to make discrete cut-off motions.

   “Then where in Santa's Merry Realm do you get the arrogance to presume whose naughty list they should appear on!?!  Christians, Buddhists, Taoists, Atheists, Jedi, and Secular Jews are Santa's responsibility at the North Pole!  Muslims, Hindus, Animists, Neopagans, and the Zoroastrians get the Jolly Porpoise in the South Pole!  And Shintoists, practising Jews,  Baha'i, Jehova Witnesses, Scientologists, and the Miscellaneous Category get stuck with the Gleeful Octopus and his merry horde of butterfly-winged gila monsters from the mysterious East Pole!  There, is that clear?!?”

   Melvin blinked in stunned silence.  “What about the West Pole?”

   “There is no West Pole you geographic dunce!  You-!”

   “Sir!” interrupted Olive, their pilot reindeer, over the coms-link.  “We're approaching target!”

   “All right!” shouted the Grinch.  “No more tangents!  Coms on!  Make sure you're locked and loaded!  Prepare to insert!  Go, go, go!”

   Three elves and a half elf-goat fell from the sleigh in linear formation towards the chimney of a large compound.  Pidowski hit first, bunging the hole up with his unhealthy girth for just a moment before the force of his three comrades colliding with him forced him through.  A soft thump and a cloud of ash issued from the main fireplace inside. 

   “Santa's Bells, Pidowski,” groaned Krampus.  “That ass of yours gets any bigger and we'll need to lube you up before missions.”

   “Hey, maybe you'd like to go first and break my fall, horn-brain?” Pidowski retorted.

   “Cut the chatter!” Captain Grinch barked over the radio from the command sleigh.  “Green Group, secure the first floor.  Red Group, upstairs.”

   The Coal Squad agents drew their scuttles and split up.  Krampus and Green Melvin worked their way through the common rooms on the main floor, while Garcia and Pidowski climbed the stairs to the bedrooms.

   "A lot of festive spirit for a war-monger," Garcia commented, admiring the colourful lights and decorations that lined the banister. He knocked his pointy green helmet twice and waved upward.  “Two armed bogeys on the landing,” he whispered into his coms-link.

   “Salary men,” the Grinch radioed back.  “The tall one's just doing it so his family can eat.  The short one too, but he's more of a dick.  You know what to do.”

   Pidowski and Garcia nodded to each other.  They loaded canisters of Mrs. Claus's extra potent cooking sherry into their coal scuttles and charged up the stairs.  As the guards' jaws dropped in disbelief they each got a shot of the sherry and were knocked cold.  The short one got an extra shot of coal.

   “Landing secured,” Pidowski called it in as they proceeded to the first bedroom.  “Door's wired,” he muttered to Garcia.

   “That wasn't on the schems,” Garcia whispered back.  “Better call it in.”

   “No, I got this,” Pidowski answered back.  “Give me a boost up to the control panel.”

   “Yeah, right!” Garcia shook his head.  “If I wanted to carry an elephant around on my back I would have stayed in the Distribution Division.”

   “Dammit, Garcia!  Be a team player!  A bit of sugar plum dust on the buttons and we'll have the code cracked in two winks.”

   “You give me the sugar plum dust and I'll boost on you.”

   “You know my back can't take lifting!” Pidowski argued.

   “Well lie down then.  You're taller that way anyway!”

   The two elves fell to high-pitched fisticuffs.

   *   *   *   *   *

   “Dining room, clear!” Green Melvin radioed.

   “Living room, clear!” Krampus called back.

   “Did you hear that?” Green Melvin asked.

   “Hear what?”

   They both stood silent for a moment.  There it was again.  The faint sound of tinkling from the kitchen.  “Bogey in the kitchen,” Krampus radioed.

   “Negative,” the Grinch radioed back.  “Intel says all targets are tucked in for the night.  Might be a maid or a delivery kid.  Do not engage.”

   “What if they come out?” Green Melvin asked.

   “Neutralize any operatives heading for the stairs,” the Grinch called back.  “Otherwise, observe and recon.”

   “Sit and watch?” Krampus growled privately to Melvin.

   Melvin shrugged.

   “Hey.  Did you hear that?” Krampus asked, a mischievous glint to his eye.

   “Hear what?” Melvin asked back.

   “It sounded like they were heading for the stairs.”  Krampus crept towards the kitchen door, with Green Melvin reluctantly following.

   *   *   *   *   *   

   “Hold still, dammit!” Pidowski grunted to his partner below.

   “Gah, my shoulders!” Garcia squeaked.  “What are those, ballet shoes you're wearing?  All of the weight is concentrated into a tiny point!”

   “The podiatrist said they'd help with my posture!” Pidowski spat back.  He mashed the last couple of buttons on the control panel and the door buzzed open.

   “Thank the Tinsel,” Garcia sighed as Pidowski hopped down.  They entered the room, coal scuttles cocked.  “What the-?”

   *   *   *   *   *

   Krampus eased open the kitchen door.  The only unsteady light was from a candle left burning on the counter.  Melvin dove through the door and rolled into position by the dishwasher.  There was no one visible in the room, but a large island hid the far end of the kitchen from their view.  Krampus pointed Melvin to the right, while he crept stealthily to the left.  They both rounded the island at the same time, scuttles primed to fire.

   On the floor by the fridge sat a little girl of about three years in her pyjamas.  She was rubbing the ears of a kitten who was mischievously trying to get at a plate laden with cookies that was on the ground.

   “No, no, Fwuzzie,” the girl said, lifting the kitten back away from the plate.  “Those tweats are for Santy Claus.”  She bent down and kissed the kitten, then picked up the plate with her unsteady toddler hands.  Krampus squinted in confusion at Green Melvin, who instinctively lowered his scuttle.  Something was definitely wrong with the intel they were receiving.

   “We got a room full of gifts for the poor,” came Garcia's voice over the radio.  “Something's wrong here, Captain.  Permission to abort.”

   “Permission denied!” came the Grinch's grim voice.  “Our intel is solid.  These orders come from the top!”

   “We've got the daughter AWOL in the kitchen,” Melvin reported.  “Three years old cuddling a kitten and putting out cookies for Santa.  Your intel is bogus, sir!”

   “That's impossible!” the Grinch growled.  “Are you saying CI5 has been compromised?!?”

   “Abort!” came Pidowski's panicked voice.  “Extract!  Extract!”

   Green Melvin wondered for a moment what could panic a grizzled vet like Pidowski.  Then the fridge door swung open on its own and a squad of penguins with goat-turd rifles emerged.

The Rumpus Room / Re: World history quiz thread
« on: 30 Dec 2017, 02:37 »
All right then, it's clue time:

This man was not a king but he led a sovereign state, although it had vanishingly little territory at his accession.  He was a Christian and would end his days with this title: Dominator quartae et dimidiae partis totius Romaniae.

The Rumpus Room / Re: World history quiz thread
« on: 29 Dec 2017, 03:02 »
Nope. :)

The Rumpus Room / Re: World history quiz thread
« on: 29 Dec 2017, 00:42 »
....No.  And technically that's not a guess either.  I will accept the actual name of the individual, but as it's not common knowledge I'll also take an answer in this format: the __________ of __________.  For example: the Count of Flanders, the Earl of Devon, the King of Denmark, the Prince of Muscovy, etc.  The event itself was front page news back in the 13th century; I was just never aware of the actual players involved before reading this book.

Looking forward to it, P.  By the by, in which time zone will it be late on New Years Eve night? ;)

For my part, I surprisingly have an early idea!  Actually, rather than go through the bother and risk of coming up with a new idea, I've decided to play it safe and just write a pale imitation sequel to a story that's already been proven to be a crowd pleaser.  Well, in fact it just kinda limped by last time, but that counts as success in my books and I'm determined to rest on my laurels rather than go through all the wrenching uncertainty and tumult of creating original art. (nod)

The Rumpus Room / Re: World history quiz thread
« on: 28 Dec 2017, 03:00 »
Emperor of Byzantium? sp?

As a rule, Emperors of Byzantium tended to be blinded after being deposed.  While they might have family that would besiege the imperial city on their behalf to restore them, I am unaware of any blind emperor or ex-emperor personally leading the troops forward.

Emperor of China?

(Er... is the "Emperor" part actually correct?)

I'm not familiar with any Chinese emperor attacking major Christian centres.

And no, it wasn't an Emperor, who I'd expect to be named.  So now we're down to kings, churchmen, nobles, saints, and impresarios....  ;)

The Rumpus Room / Re: World history quiz thread
« on: 27 Dec 2017, 16:43 »
Well, emperor of __________ would count.  I mean, there's only a very finite number of titles out there.

The Rumpus Room / Re: World history quiz thread
« on: 27 Dec 2017, 04:20 »
All right, here's one from a book I'm quite enjoying right now.  Since actual names might be obscure, I'm happy with a title:

What was the title of the blind man who personally led his troops in storming the largest city in Christendom?  

Completed Game Announcements / Re: Lunar Lander
« on: 23 Dec 2017, 23:12 »
At last, an action game that I can understand! ;-D

I think my reflexes need a bit of work, though.  Apparently I'm "too fast and going to crash!". (roll)  Personal best is level 4 so far.  My strategy is to slam on the rockets at the last possible moment, in order to conserve fuel for future attempts.  Beat that Neil Armstrong! (nod)

General Discussion / Re: The beer thread
« on: 23 Dec 2017, 15:39 »
I like that you call Stella a comfort beer. You know we call that Wife-Beater in the UK.

It can be two things! :=

General Discussion / Re: The beer thread
« on: 23 Dec 2017, 03:16 »
I'm from Canada, too, but I don't drink a lot of local beer aside from Steam Whistle (and only because it's the only beer on tap at my local drinking hole).  I used to experiment quite a bit with European beer: my favourites were usually the Irish and the Czech beers, with Polish and German beers a close second.  These days I've become less adventurous, though.  In summer I almost always drink Corona with a very large quantity of lime juice added.  In winter I tend to go more for the comfort beer these days: Stella, Guinness if it's really cold outside, and my especial favourite Boddingtons.  I forget how I got hooked on Boddingtons - no one I know likes it, and I've never been anywhere near Manchester.  But there's something about that creaminess and subtle carbonation that just warms the soul.

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