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Messages - Baron

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41
Well, the tie strategy worked pretty well for me last round, so I'm keeping it up:

Uruguay 2 - 2 France
Brazil 2 - 2 Belgium
Sweden 1 - 1 England
Russia 2 - 2 Croatia

Originally I had all 2-2 ties, but Sweden is just so defensive I couldn't bring myself to do it.

42
Ah, sorry guys.  I've been on the road travelling and missed the voting window.  Congratulations Sinitrena!

43
I'm trying a new tactic this round, since whatever I was trying last time isn't working very well. :P

Add spoiler tag for Hidden:
France 1 - 1 Argentina
Uruguay 1 - 1 Portugal
Spain 1 - 1 Russia
Croatia 1 - 1 Denmark
Brazil 1 - 1 Mexico
Belgium 1 - 1 Japan
Sweden 1 - 1 Switzerland
Colombia 1 - 1 England

44
The Hubris of A

   He'd seen his fair share of diplomatic spats, that's for sure.  Iran-Contra was a big one, between the theocracy that used to be Persia and one of them banana republics in Central America.  Sure, some of them flamingo-pink journalists tried to hype-up the role of the USA in the whole affair, but he knew better.  Back then he had an insider perspective from the CIA.  Or was he with the NSA back in '85?  To keep a low profile he'd switched agencies more often than a Spaniard switched dance partners.  But the alphabet soup of the agency merry-go-round didn't matter.  What mattered was that he was a covert diplomatic enforcer for the greatest nation on god's green Earth.  He was Jed Colic; spy, lover, geriatric, and all-American.

   He scratched the three-day-old stubble on his chin thoughtfully, wondering where he'd put his dentures.  Some of the young cowboys down in ops called him a dinosaur, but you couldn't put a price on his decades of experience.  Especially not with the wacky inflation numbers those hippies down at the Treasury Department kept putting out.  But whenever there was an international crisis the big brass knew who to call.  Suddenly a wrinkled face with the air of authority appeared before him.

   “Dagnabit, Fred!  How'd you get into my clipboard?!”  Jed spun the eighth-inch thick panel in his hands, marvelling at what they could do down in Q Division these days.

   “Jesus, Jed.  It's a fucking tablet.  And Fred retired twelve years ago.  I'm Charles Greenwood, acting Assistant Deputy Junior Director of the CSO, and your boss.”

   Crumb Muffins!  Was he working for the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations again?  Cud sucking State Department wankers....

   “Colic!  Are you following me?” his boss barked, bringing him back out of the rabbit hole.  “We've got a serious crisis down in Bolivia.  I'm pairing you with an Agent Zuazo, the local field commander with UNODC.”

   “What?!?” Colic spat, discovering that his dentures had been in his mouth the whole time.  “You're putting me in the hands of some spic hombre down in jolly Narco Land?!  I thought Uncle Sam didn't do kamikaze runs?”

   “Don't lose your cool, Jed,” Assistant Deputy Junior Director Greenwood growled.  “Agent Zuazo is reputedly very competent for a foreigner.  Only he's not an hombre, at least not as you or I would understand it.”

   Jed just stared, gob-smacked.  “You mean he's a... she?”

   “Used to be, I think.  And he's not a spic.  Nationality is listed as 'citizen of the world'.”

   “The world?!?”

   “Yeah.  I never heard of it either.  I think it's somewhere between Rage-istan and Outer Elbonia.  You can read the brief on the plane.  You leave at 1600.  Greenwood out.”

   Jed shook his head in disbelief.  He was getting too old for this kind of wacky advent-

   “Agent Colic!  Are you all right?”

   “What?!  Who are you?”

   A brown-complexioned latina with a big Adam's apple stared at him quizzically from heavily mascaraed lashes.  “Did you just blank out?” she asked, waving her hand across his line of vision.

   “What?!”  He looked around, blinking.  He was in an SUV bouncing over a rough jungle road.  Damn beaners must have slipped him some funky grass at the airport, causing him to trip out.  He shook the cobwebs from his mind and reasserted his American dominance.  “Listen, lady.  I need to speek-ah to agent Zuazo.  Do you know where I can findy him?”

   The lady in front of him squinted, revealing vast amounts of blue glitter eye-shadow.  “Let's get a few things straight, agent Colic,” she said in a wispy voice with a vaguely foreign accent.  “I'm not a lady.  I am in fact agent Zuazo, and you may refer to me as that.  My preferred pronouns are ze and zir.  And if you pull any of your arrogant bull-headed yankee mind-farts on me again I'm going to have to kick you out of this moving vehicle.”

   “Ze and zir?!?” he laughed.  “What the hell is ze and z-”

   Suddenly he was outside the vehicle, the familiar slow-mo haze of shell-shock allowing him to recall his tuck-and-roll training from Viet Nam.  In the blink of an eye he was back up on his feet and careening face first into tree.  Fortunately his absurdly thick glasses absorbed most of the shock.  He reached for his handy .44 Magnum, only to find his dentures slung snugly in the holster at his hip.  No matter.  He'd brought down that tiger back in Guam with an improvised bow and arrow made from his suspender straps.  Taking the piss out of this frisky little drag queen would be a walk in the park compared to that.  He rummaged around on the roadside until he found a good length stick, and then tied his shoe to the end.

   Meanwhile the convoy had stopped.  Agent Zuazo stuck her head out the window.  “What the hell are you doing?!?” she shouted.

   He ducked back into the roadside brush, stripping quickly to the waist and painting himself with fragrant mud pellets that he found on the forest floor.  He swallowed a neon-blue caterpillar that he found on a tree to help numb his pain receptors, then washed it down with some stagnant water from a puddle that he filtered through his right sock to strain out the ringworm eggs.  He found a machete in the hand of a baffled local, which he used to carve a rifle out of a shovel handle (also from the baffled local).  Finally he tied his belt around his head, to keep the shell-shock from wussing him up.

   “Agent Colic!” she shouted from the roadside.  “We don't have time for your bewildering American paranoia!  Put your clothes back on and come back to reality.  We have some real bad guys to catch!”

   He/she wasn't going to take him alive!  He'd spent six years in a Viet Cong latrine tank because he refused to surrender his liberty.  What was a couple minutes in the bush?  These kids these days had no patience.  Her would get antsy about keeping some internet schedule and would come bungling in after him, and then he'd ambush she like a polka band in Wisconsin.

   He could see through the trees the SUV reverse and come to a stop where he had entered the forest.  Through the dense foliage he could make out the slender form of agent Zuazo as him emerged from the vehicle.  “I'm going to count to five,” they announced.  “Then I'm going to come in there and pants you.  The Narcos will find it fucking hilarious when they find your pasty mosquito-swollen carcass.”  The local villager nodded at him smugly, so he knocked him out with a karate chop to the shin.  The local spat at him and retreated further into the forest.

   “One,” called agent Zuazo in a bored tone.  “Two....three......”

   Bring it on! he thought.  Soon this second-rate third-world hussy would learn not to mess with the awesome power of America.  There would be no kowtowing appeasement this time.  Only righteous fire and wrath.  Shock and awe, Baby!  Shock and awe!

   “Five!”  That last number caught him entirely off guard, as agent Zuazo had suddenly appeared behind him.  Reflexively he swung his stick-shoe at her, but the range was too short and it ended up swinging back and hitting him in the face.  Before he knew it his pants were off and the SUV was peeling off again down the road.  A cool breeze of freedom stirred the flag, and for the first time Jed Colic regretted his habit of going commando.  The local was back with a few of his buddies, all nodding smugly again.

45
I've had a busy weekend and haven't been able to devote any time to writing. :tongue:  Any chance of a couple day extension?

46
I'm actually going to put some serious thought into this, starting right now. :)

47
This is what I'm seeing:

Add spoiler tag for Hidden:





48
I'm not understanding the spreadsheet.  While I agree with CaptainD's scores, the points on the spreadsheet don't make any sense.  For Morocco vs. Iran Cassiebsg, cat, xBranex, and I all predicted 0-0.  Cassiebsg and cat got 0 right and 0 score, while xBranex got 1 right and 1 score, and I got 1 right but no score.  Er... what? :undecided:

49
General Discussion / Re: Incredibly sad news
« on: 12 Jun 2018, 23:52 »
I am very saddened by this news.

50
Stop hetzing me.  I'm in! ;-D

Add spoiler tag for Hidden:
Russia 3 - 1 Saudi Arabia
Egypt 1 - 4 Uruguay
Morocco 0 - 0 Iran
Portugal 1 - 2 Spain
France 2 - 0 Australia
Argentina 2 - 0 Iceland
Peru 1 - 1 Denmark
Croatia 1 - 2 Nigeria
Costa Rica 3 - 2 Serbia
Germany 2 - 1 Mexico
Brazil 1 - 1 Switzerland
Sweden 1 - 0 South Korea
Belgium 3 - 1 Panama
Tunisia 0 - 1 England
Colombia 1 - 0 Japan
Poland 1 - 1 Senegal

Russia 2 - 1 Egypt
Portugal 5 - 0 Morocco
Uruguay 2 - 0 Saudi Arabia
Iran 0 - 3 Spain
Denmark 1 - 0 Australia
France 1 - 0 Peru
Argentina 1 - 1 Croatia
Brazil 2 - 1 Costa Rica
Nigeria 1 - 0 Iceland
Serbia 2 - 1 Switzerland
Belgium 3 - 1 Tunisia
South Korea 2 - 2 Mexico
Germany 1 - 1 Sweden
England 2 - 1 Panama
Japan 1 - 1 Senegal
Poland 1 - 1 Colombia

Uruguay 2 - 1 Russia
Saudi Arabia 1 - 2 Egypt
Spain 3 - 0 Morocco
Iran 0 - 2 Portugal
Denmark 1 - 3 France
Australia 1 - 1 Peru
Nigeria 1 - 2 Argentina
Iceland 1 - 1 Croatia
South Korea 0 - 3 Germany
Mexico 1 - 1 Sweden
Serbia 1 - 2 Brazil
Switzerland 0 - 2 Costa Rica
Japan 1 - 3 Poland
Senegal 1 - 2 Colombia
England 1 - 1 Belgium
Panama 1 - 0 Tunisia

51
I should live in a city I s'pose, you only need to worry about being shot, mugged, or raped. Nice.

But... in the country you only need to worry about being shot, mugged, or raped ...by a 3 meter crocodile! :(  And heaven help you if you are suspected of throwing something into traffic and that crocodile has a sense of vigilante justice and access to a rusty rake. :=

Congratulations WHAM and to all the other entrants.  The next competition might be a bit of a squeeze for me as I have some vacation time coming up.  I suppose I might just have to *gulp* make an early submission. (roll)

52
I had an idea once for a game where you would play as this British intellectual zombie and the living were the crazy ones who just made weird screaming noises and attack you for no reason.  If only I had a dollar for every game idea I never pursued.... (roll)

Best story: Sinitrena  Yes, it was heart-wrenching and depressing.  It might just be that the story hit a personal nerve, as there are several such micro-monuments to the victims of car crashes along my route into work, two of whom I knew personally (I live in quite a small town where most people know most other people).  I liked how the banality of commuting cars was examined from the perspective of a pedestrian and a victim, even though I found it hard to like the main character's attitude of hopelessness.  I think it was the moral of the senselessness of traffic fatalities that clinched it for me, as all the other stories lacked a substantive lesson.

Best scene setting: WHAM for the post-apocalyptic patchwork of zombie and living zones.  It has a post WWII feel of gritty chaos and uncertainty.  The attitude of the dead seemed to indicate that they harboured no relationship bonds with the living once they pass over, which somewhat complicates the dramatic motivation of reuniting with loved ones on the other side, but the issue was never settled overtly one way or another.  Very interesting concept, though.

Best or worst protagonist: Babar for Agnurat the Fiery.  All the other characters just seemed too self-absorbed in their despair.  Britney has committed herself to an almost certainly futile quest that will lead to her death, while Rose (?) was willing to throw away her future and the life of her child because she can not let go of the injustice of the past.  While Agnurat was also suicidal, at least his sacrifice was for some cause greater than himself.

53
Through the Dander of Despair

   He crested the rise and his primitive heart-tube sank as hope evaporated.  As far as he could see there was nothing but mangy devastation.  He pierced the terrain beneath him in search of the red gold that kept him going, but found nothing but dust and disappointment.  He was an oriental rat flea by the name of Battuta.  And this was the land of false promise.

   Battuta squinted his eyespot at the sun to try to get his bearings.  He had come to Fluffball with the intent of seeing the great Cuzco of the East, the famous Lost Navel where the blood shot like a geyser every hour.  Legend had it that in between blasts the blood would pool so deep that you could swim in it, gorging yourself to satiation.  Battuta licked his stylet with regret, for clearly he was a long way from that land of bounty.

   Wandering through the desolation he saw nothing but scraggly hair tufting away in the wind.  This exposed the cracked and flaking skin that seemed to contain no hint of moisture no matter how far down he drilled.  Battuta hunkered down, letting his armoured plates bear the brunt of a particularly harsh gust.  He had best find shelter soon, lest he get caught in another dander storm and be buried up to his pygidium.

   Battuta made his way to a decrepit copse of fur that seemed to barely cling to the terrain by its exposed follicles.  Along the way he passed some hollow exoskeletons that were bleached almost white from exposure.  They grinned knowingly at him, as if in anticipation of his company.  Shuddering from the chill in the wind Battuta pressed on.

   At the copse Battuta was surprised to discover a grizzled old-timer sitting against a wispy hair and nursing a canteen of something red that smelled quite fermented.  Battuta hailed the old flea and asked if there was any shelter to be had nearby.

   “T'aint no such comfort on this sack of bones, Sonny!” the old-timer barked, chuckling madly to the wind.  “Not since the wells ran dry, and the fur began to fly!  T'aint fit for a louse, or even this old souse, not since the beginning of the end of days.”  The old-timer pointed his foreclaw vaguely in Battuta's direction while taking another sip from his canteen.  “Waddaya doing on a barren desert like this, Sonny?  Yer still young and strong of leg.  Why don't you blast off this corpse and chance what may in the yonder wilds?  Bad as it could possibly be, it can't be worse than here.”

   Battuta contemplated the old-timer's words.  It was vaguely irrational, but he had an unquenchable thirst that only the faithful geyser of paradise could sate.  He told the old-timer as much.

   “Red fever,” the old-timer spat grimly, letting out a long, mournful whistle.  “Mark my words, Sonny.  You'll wander these dunes of dust and dander for all eternity before you find the Lost Navel.  Heed the advice of my experience: let it go and move on.”

   Battuta suppressed the doubt gnawing at his insides.  He would not forsake his one true purpose for the uncertain purgatory of the yonder wilds.  He laughed at the old-timer, telling him he was too close now to give up hope.

   The old-timer studied Battuta for a long time before shaking his head in despair.  “T'aint we all, Sonny.  T'aint we all.”

   Battuta smirked at the melodrama of the old-timer's manner, but suddenly the chilly wind pierced him to his soul.  He turned his laterally compressed body into gale wind to stop it from acting like a sail and dislodging him from the copse.  He squatted low to keep the frigid blast from sapping him of the last of his heat, his eyespots stinging from the driven dander flakes.

   When the worst of the wintery wind had subsided, Battuta turned back to his companion, but the old-timer was gone.  Battuta looked downwind to see if he had been driven from his resting place, but all he saw was the scattered remnants of bleached exoskeletal bits snared in the wispy hairs of the copse.  The only evidence that the old-timer had ever been there was the flask that now lay empty at the base of the hair against which he had been sitting.

   Battuta stooped to retrieve the flask so that he might lick out the last few drops of sweet red with his labial palpus.   Again he bent, and again, his parched throat aching for just a single drop.  He couldn't quite believe it when his ghostly foreleg kept passing through the flask and out the other side.

-------------------------------

This story was supposed to be quite a bit sillier than it turned out.  Here's my original inspiration:
Add spoiler tag for Hidden:
:-D

54
Good!  I'll stall for as long as I can justifiably do so, and we'll meet up somewhere in the middle. :=

The Bald Prophet

Awesome.  Prophesy isn't quite the same as pilgrimage, but still awesome.  (nod)

55
I'm mostly done, but it's too late to finish it tonight.  I'll try to make it by the deadline tomorrow.

56
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)

57
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

58
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!

59
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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