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Messages - Baron

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Ooo!  This has Blondbraid's idea of a Scythian she-warrior teaming up with an ancient Greek academic written all over it! ;-D  "Scythes & Sandals," anyone? ;)

As for me, I'm off to wander the wild fens of suburbia in search of inspiration.... (roll)

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Competitions & Activities / Re: Game pitch competition
« on: 20 May 2018, 03:24 »
So #3 is Baron or Ponch

Guilty as charged. (roll)

I voted for Blondbraid's #8.  C'mon, guys!  Scythian she-warrior and Greek academic on a road trip through central Asia -that's got good times written all over it! ;-D

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Voting is now closed.  Now it is open for a bit longer.  Now it is closed again.  Open.  Closed.  Open.  Closed.  Tee hee hee! :=

Well, I'd be a bit (more) of a failure as a writing competition administrator if I didn't put my foot down and not fail to end the whole process of voting, so I actually am ending it now.  I mean right now.  Ok, now.  There.  There's that sense of finality.  Oh yeah....

Where was I?  Oh yes, not failing in my administrator's duties.  See, there was a lot of words written and digital ink spilt over the merits and miscomings of various and sundry entries.  And I want you to know that I agree with all the valid points declared or implied above, and that I unabashedly condemn all the other ones.(nod)  In the end, I think we can all agree that some of the people have spoken and that we have followed the voting process in accordance with the custom and conventions of the competition, thereby observing both the letter and the spirit of the unwritten code of writer's honour that we all of us hold so dear.  Some might decry the shortcomings of the democratic process and I would concur in that sentiment unanimously in that it is the very worst system for settling on a winner, except for all the other such systems ever conceived by man.  And so it is with great pomp and gravitas that I begin to wrap up my concluding statement of this introduction by stating unambiguously that this has been one of the five best of the last eight competitions that I've had the immense pleasure of administrating.  I LOVE YOU GUYS!!1! :=

All right, all right, let's get down to the brass tacks, shall we? 

3rd place with 3 votes goes to WHAM.  You also win the bronze monkey hand trophy that I totally failed to make. ;-D  While I personally find the whole puppy-love-on-a-pedestal thing more than just a little nauseating, I found the earnestness of the main character refreshing and the story compelling.  Like Sinitrena, I'm a little baffled by things left unsaid.  Why write a note (presumably to strangers) without including helpful details?  Unless the note was meant for the ex-companion, in which case why assume someone else would find it?  Unless it was just meant as a vague explanation of motivation (presumably for suicide), which would be a passive-aggressive strike against the ex-companion (which would then technically be two failures against them, negating the validity of the whole "one failure" theme....).  You can at least take pride in striking a nerve: we wouldn't obsess over the story so much if it hadn't sucked us in. :)

2nd place with 6 votes goes to Sinitrena.  I made your digital silver trophy an indoor sundial, but I totally failed to remember to bring it tonight. (roll)  Your nerdy-gamer reaper character was pathetically awesome.  It was the little details that added up, from the awkward dialog to his dressing sense, and everything in between.  You also totally blindsided me with the twist ending, so top marks for that.;-D 

1st place with 7 votes goes to Wiggy!  I planned to make you a golden mouldy potato trophy, but then completely failed to follow through. (roll)  You would have hands-down had my votes for best writing: "... a kaleidoscope of flashing lights accompanied by a howling such as if a hundred gales had spent themselves in one second, then silence."    Pure gold, baby!  Well, kind of purply-gold at times, but I have a soft spot for overdressed language, and it suited the Victorian time period indubitably. ;)  I think since the whole "Earth is constantly shifting absolute location" idea is vital to the plot it would have read better if the Chrononaut planned to return immediately after departing, thus making his slight displacement more plausible, but it's just a small niggle in an otherwise well-thought out story.

So it is now to Wiggy that I bestow the sparkly sequin-encrusted vestments of administrative authority.  Be it on him to come up with a new topic for the next exciting instalment of....

The Fortnightly Writing Competition!

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It's voting time! Thank you to all of our contributors for NOT failing to enter this contest. ;-D

Our valid non-joke entries are:

WHAM: An Apology
Sinitrena: Job Experience
Wiggy: The Chronological Contraption

We will be judging these entries on the following criteria.  Given the numbers of entries there will be only one vote allowed per category.

Best Character: Or maybe worst character....  An extremeness of character, anyway.
Best Fail: Or worst fail....?  You be the judge.
Best Writing: The way you put the words together to make it sound like a real writer wrote it, y'know?
Best Story: Kinda this mix of tangible and intangible factors, bundled together in a vague concept known as "having it".

Voting will run until Tuesday May 15, 2018.  Good luck to all participants!


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All right!  Two entries (kinda)!  Still four more days left to NOT FAIL to enter this competition, so keep those keys clicking.

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Selmiak, you obsequious rule follower, you!  I accept your submission. ;-D

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Welcome to the Fortnightly Writing Competition, where writers compose an entry loosely related to a given topic over roughly a two-week period.  This is a friendly competition where the goal is to have fun and improve as writers.  Entries can be short or long, serious or silly, timely or deadline-challenged....(roll)  We're not fussy, we just want to read what you can write! This fortnight's theme is:

Failure



To quote a frequently misunderstood poet (because he used crazy Scottish words that make no sense): "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft agley."  What?!?  Think of it like that cat with the speech impediment who could never catch Tweety Bird.  I mean, even if he did eat the little featherball, he'd still get fewer calories out of the deal than he would get on a regular basis from licking the dust mites off of his fur.  It's not just that he can't accomplish what he set out to do, but that the whole goal was ill-conceived from the offing.  My point is that your entry should relate somehow, at least obliquely, to a degree of unsuccessfulness at some endeavour, such as making a peanut butter sandwich with the bread on the inside, or trying to explain a writing competition without entirely thinking through the essence of what you want people to do.  Maybe your characters are coming to terms with failing to meet great expectations?  Maybe someone takes inspiration from the struggle instead of the final flop?  Maybe your entry just ends with a final flush of epic fail?  Either way you cut it, the worse you do at this competition, the better you actually do.  You can't lose!

Deadline:  All entries shall be posted by the close of business on May 10, 2018, unless stipulated otherwise in some random post herein.

By convention we vote by categories, and it is considered sporting to set these out in advance.  Your entries will (probably) be voted on in the following way; at least, as long as I don't have any better ideas in the next two weeks. :)

Best Character: Or maybe worst character....  An extremeness of character, anyway.
Best Fail: Or worst fail....?  You be the judge.
Best Writing: The way you put the words together to make it sound like a real writer wrote it, y'know?
Best Story: Kinda this mix of tangible and intangible factors, bundled together in a vague concept known as "having it".

Good luck to all entrants!

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Well, to be fair, WHAM's was my favourite as well.... (roll)  I humbly accept the victory.  I had to cut a poorly written segment speculating that Gage's disappearance somehow linked him to the murders (and also Elvis and Area 51), but it might have indirectly made things any more clear.  As for Marks the stalker/murderer's motivation, I preferred to leave him an enigma.  Not just to play with the reader's perception through his eyes, but also to make his crimes more incomprehensible (the band members, after all, also had no idea why he was coming after them).  The best we can speculate is that he is a crazed super fan.

The purple hair was a somewhat feeble attempt to tie all the incidents together so that it would be obvious that there was one stalker, not a series of unfortunate coincidences.  The weirdness of it was also supposed to lend weight to the insanity of the unprovoked crimes.  I had contemplated attempting to tie the crazed super-fan in to the band's highschool acquaintance quoted in the first article, but it seemed too obvious without awkwardly giving Marks a pseudonym and then trying to explain it afterwards.  Also the band would know him, so he'd be apprehended pretty quickly....

I will be the first to admit it was not my best outing: WHAM should've won!  WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM WHAM! ;-D

I'll try and get a new competition together soon. 

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Hey, it's still Friday here! ;-D

Best Character: I'm going with FormosaFalanster for his main character.  I can scorn and empathize with his thoughts in equal measure, which makes him seem very real.  I liked how WHAM's dysfunctional group interacted, but in the end they were each pretty one-dimensional characters (the single-minded leader whose obsession dooms everyone else, the obsequious woman henchman-enabler, the wall-paper man of learning, and the everyman).
 
Best Plot: Gotta be WHAM for a riveting Micheal Crichton-esque tale of alien encounters.  I'm a little confused about how the man (and the dog) were able to survive their ordeal, but I see why they did for plot reasons.

Best Writing: This was surprisingly close.  In the end I have to go for WHAM with his clear and punchy prose.  FormosaFalanster's piece read more like poetry at times.  It was impressive in its use of vocabulary and metaphor, but little details like missing words detracted.

Best Atmosphere: I vote WHAM who had me on the edge of my seat, as he often does.  It was a page turner without pages: you really should write a longer thriller and try to get it published.

Best Music: This category must be FormosaFalanster.  Yes it was feverish and psychedelic, but there was definitely some transcending of barriers between music and the silence of the written word.  Kudos to WHAM for evoking an emotional response of terror with his music, but the category specifically asks about managing to make you hear a song in your head, while his soundscape imparted more of a haunting, chilly sound into my spine.

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From personal experience, waning MAGS participation is a life-stage thing.  People at the bottom of the totem pole at work or with really young kids just don't have the spare hours to participate in a time intensive competition like MAGS.  If it was socially acceptable to submit joke games that you could throw together in several hours I might be tempted, but I always thought that was frowned upon.

I like TheBitPriest's idea of voting in categories, as it shares the glory a bit.  We switched to category voting down in the Fortnightly Writing Competition years ago and I find it much more rewarding as a writer to get more detailed feedback than just a win-lose vote.  I don't know if it is incentive for more participation, though.  The number of participants entering since the change is roughly on par with before hand.  Anecdotally, there's definitely more participation in the FWC when the rules imply that a short entry is socially acceptable....

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£ÿ¢k!
   Marks shifted uncomfortably amidst the howling roar of the prop plane's engine at ten thousand feet.  Well, he would have shifted if there was room to move.  Since all his gear was packed around him he could barely budge an inch.  Then the engines lurched as a wave of turbulence jolted the plane sickeningly to one side.  He considered vomiting discretely into the water proof pack on his lap, but suppressed the urge.  Instead he tried to take his mind off the rickety old plane by thinking about the case.

Charts £ÿ¢k!ed: March 12, 2023

LOS ANGELES – Teen pop band £ÿ¢k! finally topped the charts this week with their new single Hybrid Hearts.  The group has garnered considerable attention in the US and around the world over the past year with their debut album Salad Toss, featuring no fewer than six songs that made the top 40.  Hybrid Hearts takes the popular band to a new plane of excellence, however, being the band's first song to reach number one.  Music reviewers at recent concerts have raved about other material being pieced together for what is quickly becoming the most anticipated follow-up album of the year.

   £ÿ¢k! was formed in 2021 by then 18 year old Jakob Grohl, an ambitious DJ-turned-musician with devastating good looks and an incomparable sense of rhythmic funk.  He recruited fellow high school students Helen Spry (synth player), Mødï (then called Jessica Blumfahrter, vocals), and Gage Foley (composer, lyrics).  An unlikelier combination couldn't be assembled.

   “Jakob was like this obnoxious show-off,” says Becky Kingsley, a former classmate.  “Helen was this weird artsy-band girl.  Jessica was this uber-jock that played on every team.  Gage was this greasy loser who had pretty much dropped out of school.  No one knows how Jacob talked them all into forming a group.  They didn't move in the same social circles and, Jessica and Gage at least, had never been known to have performed musically in public.”

   Stroke of genius it was, however.  The band has found almost unprecedented success and garnered a legion of devoted fans.  Leaving their teenage personas behind, the band has reimaged itself as the definition of cool.  Screaming fans and corporate sponsors claw at each other for just a glimpse as the band members....


   The plane lurched again suddenly, and Marks had to swallow hard to try to turn his stomach back right-side-out.  He turned his head to look out the window and wished he hadn't, for there was nothing there but bottomless fog.  Any moment he expected a mountain top or tree to emerge suddenly from the mist to take the wing right off the plane.  He swallowed hard again and tried to focus on the case...

£ÿ¢k! This: June 24, 2026

NEW YORK – Pop band £ÿ¢k! launched its fifth album yesterday evening at Carnegie Hall.  The band's meteoric rise has been unparallelled.  The video for their latest single Shanghai Jewel has over 2 billion views on YouTube.  They have sold out entire football stadiums to see their shows on every continent except Antarctica (but they did play a free concert to 100 000 penguins huddled beneath the aurora in the middle of a polar winter as a stunt back in 2025).  By every metric they now have more hits than Micheal Jackson and the Beetles combined.  There is not an ear on the planet that hasn't been seduced by their revolutionary upbeat sound.

    £ÿ¢k! was formed just five years ago by 4 high school misfits from Cincinnati, Ohio.  Who could say back then that Jakob Grohl's rooster haircut and tight-panted dance steps would shortly become an iconic symbol of New Era pop?  Who could guess five years ago that a billion hearts would have melted at the sound of Mødï's sultry vocals, or have broken over Helen Spry's devastating good looks?   Back in those dark ages of retro-spliced hip-hop pastiche, who could imagine the creative power of Gage Foley's songwriting to change the entire industry?  Often copied and mimicked, there is still only one £ÿ¢k!

   The band arrived in New York on Thursday to raucous crowds and enhanced security after several minor incidents over the past few weeks.  Band leader Jakob Grohl was allegedly assaulted in Philadelphia last week by a crazed fan after his autograph, and Gage Foley narrowly missed being hit by a broken beer bottle thrown on stage two weeks ago in Atlanta.  Helen Spry notes that these sort of incidents have been on the rise as the band's fame has become all pervasive.  “It kinda takes the fun out of getting £ÿ¢k!ed,” she quipped to reporters.  “I wish everyone would just chill out and enjoy the music.”

   Unfortunately New Yorkers aren't known for their manners.  Already there has been....


   Suddenly a strip of gravel appeared out of nowhere and the plane bounced off it hard, listing sharply to the right before recovering.  Bang!  The plane bounced off the landing strip harder, causing Marks' gear to temporarily envelope him.  He held his breath for a third impact, but the plane seemed suddenly to be climbing again back into the mist. 

   “Sorry about that,” the pilot seemed to shout over the roar of the engines.  “We missed the first half of the runway due to low visibility and had to abort the landing.  We'll have to come around and try again!”

   Marks swallowed hard and took refuge in the case once more.

More £ÿ¢k!ing Incidents: September 23, 2026

LONDON - Screaming fans were disappointed in London yesterday evening after the band £ÿ¢k!'s lead instrumentalist Helen Spry was allegedly assaulted in her dressing room by a crazed fan.  The musician is reportedly traumatized by the incident but physically unharmed.  Details at this point are sketchy, but the pattern of the assault matches those of previous incidents this summer, giving rise to conspiracy theories about a serial stalker.

   “Scotland Yard takes these allegations very seriously, and we are following all leads available at this point,” said chief inspector William Rhemus.  “We will obviously do everything in our power to keep visiting global talent safe.  We have every reason to suspect that this is a targeted incident, and that there is no danger to the broader public.”

   This is small consolation to fans as the superband's last concert in Madrid was also called off when lead-vocalist Mødï was assaulted with a knife back-stage.  The singer managed to beat off her assailant, but not before he was able to cut off a large chunk of her purple-dyed hair.  Since then hundreds of counterfeit locks have turned up for sale on e-Bay starting at $10 000, frustrating investigators' efforts to track down the perpetrator.

   “We share our fan's disappointment,” said a statement issued by band-leader Jakob Grohl, “but we refuse to compromise our members' safety.  Nor will we make concessions to the quality of our performances due to the climate of fear and menace that has been stalking us.  We hope our real fans will understand and help the police with any information they might have about this serial stalker.”

   Speculation has grown recently as the stalking incidents have intensified....


   Bang!  The plane bounced off the runway again, but this time the initial impact was followed shortly by the slightly less-unsettling sound of the tires rumbling over rough gravel.  Marks gave silent thanks to the higher powers and prepared to disembark.

£ÿ¢k! Lead Found Dead: October 29, 2026

DUBAI – Jakob Grohl, lead-member of the superband £ÿ¢k! was found dead yesterday in his hotel room.  Full details of the incident have yet to be released, but the band was believed to be lying low as authorities investigated a number of disturbing assaults on band-members over the course of the year.  Dubai police have yet to make a public statement, but those close the band are calling the death of the 23 year old Grohl as “extremely suspicious”. 

   This is just the latest turn of events in what has been....


   “So we're here!” the pilot shouted at him, despite the fact that the engines were now idling and the plane was three-hundred feet away.  Marks' gear was strapped to him on every side, causing him to sink alarmingly into the fragile soil.  He just wanted to be off, but the pilot insisted on orienting him.

   “Mount Kayburn is in the Kenai range!” the pilot continued to shout, pointing at the map and then waving to the obvious prominence of the mountains to the south-east.  “Make sure you have your satellite phone with you to call for extract!  Remember, even helicopters can't land in those mountains, so if you get into trouble you're basically fucked!”

   Marks nodded without really listening.  He'd left the satellite phone under his seat back in the plane.  He had enough shit to carry as it was.

Life Without £ÿ¢k!: May 11, 2028

SANTA BARBARA - The young woman on the screen fidgets uncontrollably, a symptom of her terrifying ordeal over the past three years.  She vapes an unidentified substance, which she says helps calm her nerves.  She is the last surviving member of superband £ÿ¢k! That's a lot of baggage to carry for someone who has not yet turned 25.

   Mødï never sought out the super-fame that seemed to fall into her lap.  She wasn't even that much into music, instead spending her teenage years playing volleyball, basketball, and soccer on her high school's varsity teams.  A chance encounter at a karaoke party with fellow student Jakob Grohl led to her discovery as the planet's premier vocalist.  But now she wished it all had never happened.

   “We didn't know what fame would do to us,” she says in her first interview since the tragic deaths of her fellow band-mates.  “We didn't know the dangers.  We were young and out to have a good time.  We didn't understand the terrible consequences of our fame.”

   Terrible indeed.  Band-leader Jakob Grohl was bludgeoned to death with a golden globe award in his hotel room bath tub in Dubai back in 2026.  The trophy was won by Bruno Mars back in 2017, but hocked when he ran into financial difficulty back in the early 20s.  The only other clue left at the scene was a thin lock of purple hair taped onto the victim like a moustache.  DNA tests later confirmed that the hair belonged to Mødï herself, and was likely part of a chunk sliced off by an assailant in Madrid earlier that same year. 

   “He's the one,” she says, that famous voice now quavering.  “He's been after us since the beginning, and he won't stop until he's got us all.”

   It's hard to dismiss the former diva's prophesy as overly dramatic.  Fellow band-member Helen Spry was found dead of an apparent drug overdose in her Santa Monica home back in April of 2027.  The catch?  An autopsy revealed a lock of purple hair carefully jammed into her sinus cavity.

   Then, despite a massive security effort, fellow-band member Gage Foley disappeared without a trace back in February of this year.

   “Gage was the soul of the band,” Mødï exclaims through convulsions.  “Jakob was in it for the attention, and for Helen it was a challenge for her skill.  But Gage wrote the hits.  He was the one who looked past the everyday and composed such transcendent music.  Of all of us, he was the one that never let fame get to him.  He was so down to earth, so real.  Such a beautiful person.”

   Mødï has never confirmed rumours of a deeper relationship with Gage Foley, although there has been speculation in the media for years.  While not legally binding until confirmed dead, it is known that Gage Foley left the entirety of his considerable estate to Mødï.

   Police have conducted an extensive manhunt for the missing singer and found several suspicious circumstances surrounding his disappearance, including muddy footprints in his home matching those found at the scene of other assault attempts on band-members over the years.

   “He just, you know... gave up at the end,” Mødï squeaks.  “He said he knew what was coming, and there was no sense in living in a fantasy world.  He told me, the very last time we spoke, to get out while I still could.”

   But Mødï doesn't go 'out' anymore.  She has 24 hour security, and conducted this interview via web-cam.  She didn't even reveal her location, lest it tip off the bogeyman stalker that haunts her nightmares and every waking moment....


   Marks rummaged through the last of the food pack, then abandoned it by the side of the trail.  The forest stretched out in every direction, pock marked by tiny lakes and framed by mountains rising sheer into the clouds.  What a miserable corner of the globe.  A few snowflakes began to fall, driven by an icy wind that seemed to cut clean through him.  He took refuge in the case once more.

Mødï Blues: January 18, 2030

BERN – Sad news out of Switzerland today as the last remaining member of superband £ÿ¢k! was found strangled to death at her safe house.  Singer Mødï was discovered this morning dead in her bathroom, with locks of purple hair glued over her eyebrows.  The crime is suspected to be an inside job by one of her security team, as she meticulously kept her whereabouts a secret since the heinous deaths of her fellow band-mates.  Thus ends the tragic saga of perhaps the greatest band to ever....


Marks collapsed weakly to sit upon the moss covered boulder.  Around him stretched the endless expanse of wilderness.  He had no more food, and now too weak to carry on he had abandoned his tent and the last of his supplies.  There would be no return trip this time.  He carefully took out his latest newspaper clipping from a plastic bag he kept in the chest pocket of his coat.

Kenai Miracle!: November 10, 2033

ALASKA – Sophie Locklear, aged 6 and presumed dead, has been found alive in the small Alaskan town of Soldotna.  The child had wandered away from her parents' hunting bush camp on October 21st and was caught out in the largest freak-blizzard to strike the area in a century.  Despite a massive search effort between waves of snow there was no sign of the girl.

   “We figured she was frozen under the snow if she were lucky,” Kenai Park Ranger Stanley Cuthers says.  “Or eaten by wolves or a grizzly if she weren't.  We just figured there was no way a child could survive the weather and the wilderness for that amount of time.”

   But survive she did.  The girl reports being taken to a cave by a kindly hermit who fed her on smoked meat and comforted her with songs played on an old guitar.  The man, who was not seen by any witnesses, was said by the child to have a great long beard and crazy wild hair.  He reportedly left her at the edge of town next to the new police station with instructions to go inside and ask for help before disappearing back into the wilderness....


       Marks carefully folded the newspaper and placed it back in the plastic bag with the lock of purple hair.  Then he took out his bowie knife and began his final hunt.

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Mine's in the works (somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 done).  It looks like we're getting a pretty severe ice storm over night which will probably cut the power, so I might tentatively please need a one day extension. :)

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Hang in there, WHAM.  We're rooting for you!

(Except in this competition, of course.... :-[;))

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Sign me up!  And, er... nudge me before the deadline! :=

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WHAAAAAAAAAAAAM!!! ;-D

(I'm a little disappointed you didn't write about WHAM!, but still good to see you writing again. :) )

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Wow, this one is going to be a challenge for me.  Especially because I don't often listen to music (my parents played too much ABBA when I was a kid... (roll)).  I guess I better get my thinking cap on. :undecided:

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Can I trade my silver ring for one of pure green and a silly drunken song about a goblin? :=

Congratulations Sinitrena!  It's for the best, really.  The last time we co-administered things got a bit silly.... ;)

Congratulations also to Creamy and Mandle.  I really enjoyed your stories and speculating about your spatial and temporal whereabouts. ;-D

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But.... Mandle has clearly fallen into the time-warp that is Australia.  There's no telling what time period he has been transported to!  We may tomorrow unearth votes that have been chiselled into stone for a thousand years, or we may have to wait until our beards are long and white and bionic robo-monkeys coddle us like infants for him to resurface. (roll)  Couldn't we instead just interpolate how he would have voted based on his last post? :=

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Can I replace my one vote for Mandle with one for Creamy, so that we can have a three-way tie? ;-D

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