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Lawnmower Boy

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Everything posted by Lawnmower Boy

  1. I started writing CU fanfic with one about a retired villain who accidentally discovers the identity of his archnemesis and launches into his revenge before realising that he has the grandkids that day. Hilarity ensues.
  2. Explaining your joke means that you did it wrong and also even more derailing (although I think this is an important enough thread to survive any derailing I can accomplish), but what I meant is that Gygax meant the game to be played with fudged die rolls. The psionics rules as written are pretty crap, although I think Dark Sun eventually did a pretty good job of making the case for why they might be a good thing to have in a fantasy campaign.
  3. I always liked the First Edition psionics rules, and you had about a 2% chance of actually getting psionics. So when I DM'd, 2% was 100%. What? I'm morally certain that it was the way Gygax intended the game to be played.
  4. Well, the X-Men are cool, so obviously they don't have any water breathers. I could have made the protagonist a water breather . . . "Well?" "He's wearing a psi shield." "Oh, a psi shield. A government-issue psi shield. That'll stop Bill cold." "No need to get sarcastic, Hank. Actually, cute trick. Layered on the chip on a credit card. So we shot it with a microwave laser. Kid obviously didn't know it was there, didn't even react when his wallet fot a half degree hotter." "Not to be a bore, but, well?" "Kid named Dylan Lee. Journalism grad. Thinks he's an intern at the CIA, but Lang is his report. Cover is that he's also an intern at The Bugle. They got a hot tip that Britney Spears is being treated here, so he's trying to get an interview. Actually, we're the latest place Lang is knocking off his list of possible X-Men hideouts. Obviously he doesn't consider us a hot possibility." "Spears. I wish. Journalism grad, intern. Money trouble?" "And how." "Lang is such an asshole. All he needed to do was pull some strings and get the kid on the payroll somewhere. Parker wouldn't take a SENTINEL boy, but there's always The Post. Okay, we'll do an operational mindwipe and . . . Wait. Have we established how he got superpowers?" "He doesn't show up on a detector. Is it relevant?" "He wouldn't necessarily. Actually, it's a bit more concerning that he doesn't have a CEREBRO profile. We'd probably get that even if he were a regular mutate. Unless --I want to check this kid out. Maybe turn him if he's a mutant." "What do you want me to do with him? He's going be in a classified area pretty quick." "Take him down and put him in an aquarium to cool off." "Okay. Wait. Did you say aquarium?" "Sure. One of the big ones. You know, with a castle and giant seahorses."
  5. I've voted for the least problematic option to my mind. (Past the Cold War, worried about politics, kind of cool to divine origins in general.) I actually liked the "Team Mutant" option in your last poll, Hermit, even if it didn't quite scratch my itch for "secret history" stories, which is the way I wish that particular subgenre had gone to start with. , , , "Oh, good. You're awake. I've never actually had to tase someone before. I didn't think it was supposed to knock someone unconscious!" Dylan tested his bonds. Not too bad. Easy enough to slip. When he'd learned whatever this guy was going to tell him. Which, according to movies that had nothing to do with real life, would be pretty much everything. "I don't think . . . I. I'm sorry. Who are you again?" "Henry McCoy. Dr. McCoy, but I prefer being called Hank. I'm the Director here at the Sunshine Valley Private Hospital. And you . . I hope you don't mind a bit of invasion of privacy, are Dylan Lee, aged 21. You graduated from Wisconsin Journalism, last year, which doesn't seem like the world's best career choice in this year of our Lord 2015, but I notice you didn't ask me before you registered your major. You're are an intern at the New York Daily Bugle and you have a Master Card and a Visa, which is great, because you can use one to pay off the other and stave off bankruptcy twice as long!" "So you Googled me. Dr. McCoy?" "And searched our wallet. Yes. I was trying to figure out why you were sneaking around the wards in my hospital in a very cool black tactical outfit." "We heard at the News that . . . Britney Spears . . . was an inpatient here." "Baloney. We are an obscure little psychiatric hospital. In the 52 years this place has been open, under the previous director and myself, we have dealt with exactly one kind of patient: Young people who develop psychiatric issues around puberty. We are specialists, and I like to think that our results speak for themselves. While I like to think that we have something to offer celebrity patients, the fact is that our supporting foundation funds a diverse clientele ranging from the lower middle class to upper middle class. The wildest we get is some non-citizens. Two Russians! A Kenyan! One Japanese kid? Oh, wait, two starting next year." Dr. McCoy hesitated, sighed. "Okay, and one celebrity. Allison was B-list back in the day. Still gets enough in residuals to drive a Lexus. Maybe we should advertise?" Dr. McCoy shook his head, unconvincingly pretending to regret something. "Maybe not. Frankly, a solid career at an obscure little hospital in a Catskills resort town has done very well for me. I made a lot of money, I have a nice house and a private plane. The children and grandchildren of former patients cut my grass. Hope is the cutest little thing. Laura is not. Life has been pretty sweet." Crap. McCoy was just going to stick with the cover story. Like a sane person would. The movies did lie! Dylan slipped his restraints and hit that mental turboboost that sped up his reflexes until everyone around him was standing still. This place. Could it be? When Director Lang explained the mission, all he'd been thinking about was his student loans. No way was this lead, the latest in sixty years of bad leads going to pan out. But then they took him down, and he knew that wasn't something they could do with a taser. Well, they weren't going to blindside him again! Until they did. A solid thump, and he was down, wind knocked out, a solid looking man in a jumpsuit above him, the restraints back around his wrist. He'd never been hit like this. Was this what superheroes felt like all the time? Well, let him catch his breath and this donnybrook was back on! "Looks like he's going to be back up in a second, Hank," the second man said. Where had he even come from? "Put this on him, Tom." "Is that what I think it is?" Tom asked. "Don't get all high and mighty, Tom. These things work on 80% of us, detectors 80%. Dylan doesn't show up on our detectors. If the collar doesn't work, odds are he's not, you know. But if it does . . ." And just like that, a smooth metal something was going around Dylan's throat, followed by a click and the worst headrush Dylan ever had. Or more than that, because suddenly his hands and feet were asleep and his stomach was trying to jump through his mouth. He tried to open his mouth, like you do when you're about to throw up, and somehow even that didn't work. Dr. McCoy fished his phone out of his pocket, answered it. Apparently. Dylan's eyes weren't focussing very well, either. "Crap," Dr. McCoy said. "Nate's getting a headache. Get that thing off him before Chuck picks it up. The Old Man is fragile enough as it is." The barest blur, and the collar was gone. Dr. McCoy knelt down, held out his hand. "Here. I'll help you into that chair if we can agree that you're not going to fight your way out of here, Dylan. Agent Lee." "I'm not a real agent," Lee said. "CIA does interns, too. At least they pay, unlike The Bugle." "SENTINEL, Dylan, not CIA." "I'm sorry?" "Dr. McCoy means that you're an agent --an intern-- for a shadow agency within the CIA. SENTINEL. It is tasked with hunting people like us." Tom talked very fast. "Us? I'm nothing like you, Speedy Gonzalez. You're the X-Men, a bunch of super-terrorists going back 60 years. I'm a vaguely patriotic Millennial who really needs a safe civil service job to have any hope of paying off his student loans." But inside, Dylan's stomach was going out again. They knew what he was. And in that moment he understood just how much he had always wanted to know the same. Dr. McCoy sighed again. "How much do you know about speciation theory in evolution?" "I thought you were a psychiatrist?" Crap. For a moment, Dylan had thought he might belong. But this sounded like gibberish. "I'm a supergenius. Just like you have totipotent reflexes. Because you were born that way. Because you are a mutant. Which means that if your employers ever figure out how you got your powers, you're going to find out what the inside of an extermination camp looks like." "I . . . what? The government isn't running some secret Holocaust for movie monsters! That's crazy!" Although Dylan was willing to believe a lot of things about Director Lang. It had always been hard to believe that a man with so much hate inside him could be running his own division. "The government isn't doing anything. There are 416 mutants on this entire planet, and a good third of them were picked up by us long before SENTINEL noticed them. Which means that your agency thinks that it is quietly dealing with a problem on a scale of one to two people born a year. All antisocial and dangerous, incidentally. The CIA has kept bigger secrets. But you know what isn't a secret that they could keep? An enclave of 99 mutants, all living in commuting distance of New York and staffing their own superteam. We really need to keep it that way for a very, very long time. Like, say, 800 years at the current rate of natural increase. We also really don't want them finding out that detectors and inhibitors aren't 100% reliable. It's shocking enough to find out that CEREBRO isn't." "If you're thinking what I think you're thinking, I'm out," Tom said. "I think Laura has her Dad's number if you need it. Or Emma?" Dr. McCoy shook his head. "No, I'm not. Dylan's a mutant and he's stable. The community can't lose him. Demographically speaking. In fact, I'm tempted to drag this boy down to the Guthries right now. There's a lot of girls there who really don't want to marry a cousin. And boys, too, pardon your brother's patience with an old-fashioned Boomer. And we need to find out how CEREBRO missed him, and who else it might have missed." Dr. McCoy hesitated for a second. "Dylan, would you like a job? Because I could really use a secret agent man on my action team."
  6. Canada Day this year came in the wake of the discovery of unmarked graves at Canadian residential schools, escalating into the "heat dome" heatwave, still moving eastward across Canada as I write, and culminating in a tragic and apocalyptic way when Lytton, a primarily First Nations town and the hottest place in Canada, burned down on the holiday eve. So it was a bummer, is what I'm saying. Here's wishing that Independence Day goes better!
  7. Wow. A callback for a gig he interviewed for in 2003 and he's still available. That is one terrible labour market they've got there.
  8. Pfft. What's the worst that can happen?
  9. Look, as much as I hate to kick Tennessee when it's down, the state has the most fervent Aquaman fans in the Union. Sheesh. Says it all, I think.
  10. I read these words as an English sentence but they don't make sense. Everything is made for me and I'm a middle-aged White man who used to buy comics thirty years ago, so clearly Captain Marvel was made for middle-aged White men who used to buy comics thirty years ago. Or maybe it was forty? Anyway, point is, I paid my dues back when comics cost a buck and a quarter every issue, and now I'm entitled!
  11. I'm sad that no-one has tried to drag up "Spider-Man vs Firelord" yet. PS: Aquaman sucks
  12. By "rags trade" I meant a fashion district, which would be in an upscale neighbourhood. Expanding a bit, the hiring halls were a fairly big deal earlier in this century and might give their names to a neighbourhood, although on reflection I suspect that the associated chapels might be more important, notably the Deep Sea MIssions= Centres, or their medieval equivalent. "The Mission." Fish curing grounds smell bad, and pretty much rule out other use in season; but that's not what's important here. They have to be kept open for use out of season, and the authorities tend to be quite zealous about this because the "teinds" from a fish curing ground can be quite significant. The dispute between Anstruther town and Dryburgh Abbey is one of the highlights of medieval Scottish law and ultimately went all the way up to the Pope for resolution. (No doubt playing its part in convincing the Curia that Scotland needed its own archbishopric so that it never had to get involved in a dispute like that again.) Halophytic weeds are going to grow like, well, weeds, on a fish curing ground out of season, and will be a lucrative resource in themselves. You can just graze sheep on them, but they're also be useful for soapmaking and lots of other medieval industrial chemistry that starts with making lye. (Including fish curing!) In short, you're going to see stretches of the foreshore kept open and green by significant legal penalties on would-be encroachments. "The Grange"? Or, if it is the castle that owns the lands, "the Marchfield," from "Field of Mars," because it is mostly associated with drilling. Tanneries and fulleries don't just smell like urine. They also smell like fecal matter, because fecal matter, urine and rotten milk are all used in the processing. This is why, typically these industries are located outside of the city gates, downwind and near the water and perhaps in close proximity with housing for an untouchable class. If there is a local flax industry, then the retting ponds are likely to be found here (and the flax fields are likely to be here as well.) City industries typically want to keep the wind-and waterborne effluvia of these businesses well away from their own work. This is the kind of thing that helped make London's East End the place it traditionally was. "Cheapside" in London no doubt has some much more antiquarian word usage behind its name, but sounds like a good name for this kind of district. Brickworks are similarly noisome, but use other reagents --specifically, lots and lots of old time industrial acids, made by burning sulfur. People avoid neighbourhoods where every breath burns, and die quickly if they have to live there, so perhaps no endearing nickname is needed: "The Brickworks." The need for mills is pretty pressing in any large city, but is going to be especially significant in a port town, which is likely to handle a great deal of grain and oilseed. Water mills are going to appear in any riverine setting --even if the run of the current is small, a diversionary canal can bring water in with five or six feet of head, more than enough to run an old time mill. This is going to be the Arsenal neighbourhood, though, so "The Arsenal." Lille, the example that I am thinking of here, and admittedly not a port town, had a substantial heavy wool drapery industry because of water brought in from just up the Deule with no more than a six foot drop between the diversion and the city. It also had a persistent problem with rural shops illegally diverting the water just outside the city limits. In German parlance, these "ground rabbits" were a persistent problem for all medieval cities, and a neighbourhood of temporary homes (the kind that I was envisioning intruding on the fish curing grounds) and temporary shops would be a persistent problem. In tribute to old time German home town xenophobia, perhaps "the Warrens"? If not, windmills work better where there is some kind of relief, because you can pump water uphill into reservoirs when the mills aren't working, but the Dutch and East Anglian examples show they are quite efficient on flat ground. I was casting around for a particularly famous, historic London windmill that obviously isn't that famous, or I would be able to find it, but what I did find is this Wikipedia list of historic windmills in the London area. Most mills took their name from the neighbourhood in which they were located, but there are some interesting cases in which it seems to be the opposite, notably "Battersea," which started out as "Baldric's Sea" before it was drained, mostly by ditching rather than pumping, to be sure, but still a connection. I suspect I would find a number of examples of this around Amsterdam if I looked. I hope this is more useful than my initial posting!
  13. "So what are we covering up today? More shapechanging alien goo oil bees? Because I hate them. No? Human monster. Oh, God, not the liver-eating squidgy guy. He was disgusting. Oh. generational incest crime family? Look. Do we need to cover up these freaks? "Cuz it seems to me we could just return the case over to the FBI and maybe they could actually catch those freaks . . . No? Set a bad precedent? Okay, I'll add 'em to the coverup, but don't blame me if they move into your neighbourhood. Oh, right. Forgot you're a goo alien and you live on . . . a reservation in New Mexico? And commute to a secret base in Antarctica? No, no, that wasn't a judging tone. You do you."
  14. -Hiring halls for stevedores and sailors; -Fish curing grounds (open saltmarsh, possibly with drying racks); -Ropewalks; -Lumberyards (for seasoning), also naval stores, canvas, sailmakers; -Tanneries (for sealers). I notice a tannery and adjacent fullery adjacent to the hippodrome, but I don't think that's a very plausible location for them. Ditto a brickwork. -Precincts for foreign traders, like the Hanse in London; -A moneychanging/goldsmithing district; -Fortunetellers; -Rags district; -Granaries, mills, stonecutters, saw mill, nail mill, all needing water access and a fair amount of space, with preferably a millstream or adjacent to a hill for a windmill;
  15. That does appear to be in the spirit of the thread.
  16. I'd object to the whole "cowardice" angle, but I'm afraid to bring it up.
  17. Well. . . In February of 1951, Senator Joe McCarthy, riding high after he was perceived to have been behind several Republican come-from-behind Senate victories in the Midwest in the 1950 midterms, secured Senator Margaret Chase Smith's removal from a key Senate committee membership. A liberal GOPer from Maine, Smith's 1 June 1950 "Declaration of Conscience," in which she condemned McCarthy and his methods (without naming the Senator) was part of a Never-McCarthy effort in the Senate, to use some anachronistic language, which had, by January, obviously collapsed. McCarthy was by this time issuing threats against all of them, and financed a primary challenger to Smith in 1952. And by "financed," I mean, since McCarthy never had two nickels to rub together because there was still booze and male prostitutes unpaid for, that he diverted some of his copious fundraising flow to the effort. It failed, of course, along with all McCarthy's other efforts against "Snow White and the Six Dwarfs." By 1952, people were talking about Smith as a vice-presidential candidate on Eisenhower's ticket. Eisenhower, interestingly enough, had defeated "Mr. Conservative," Senator Robert Taft, in the 1952 convention, causing such acrimony that a number of young Republicans ran off to found National Review to save real American conservatism. (Two of the founders having previously been behind a book length defence of McCarthy, McCarthy and His Enemies. By 1954, Smith had the pleasure of joining the rest of the GOP caucus in voting to censure McCarthy. Bill Buckley, one of the coauthors of McCarthy and His Enemies never exactly came clear on his position on McCarthy, but he is famous for reading the John Birch Society out of the Republican Party after determining that they were just too crazy for the GOP to safely associate with. And by crazy I should take this moment to point out that some of the prominent leadership of the rightmost fringes of the GOP in the early Fifties were dabbling in death squad talk, which seems at least as bad as refusing to register election returns, at least to me. I could talk about Charles Lindbergh, but the point here is that the GOP has gotten itself embroiled in the right wing fever swamps before, and the playbook that works is to play dead until the movement runs out of steam and then stab it in the back, and certainly not to get out in front of it.
  18. Hunh. I severed all ties with my family after winning the Legion Friday night meat draw, but different strokes for different folks.
  19. https://source.wustl.edu/2021/04/study-scant-evidence-that-wood-overuse-at-cahokia-caused-local-flooding-subsequent-collapse/
  20. I knew it was all Hermit's fault!
  21. Tell her I said the young folk today are awful and the music these days sucks and the fashions these days are bad and it's all her fault. Also, please don't let her cancel me.
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