My post on the tree octopuses of Polynesia contains a bit of sloppy geography; Palau and the Caroline Islands are actually in Micronesia, not Polynesia (I got the Cook Islands right, though). I'll rectify that slight against the good people and cephalopods of Micronesia with this post focusing on Micronesian tree octopuses.
Spooky Washington: Tales of Hauntings, Strange Happenings, and Other Local Lore is part of the Spooky series by S.E. Schlosser, which collects Schlosser's retellings of ghost stories and folklore from around North America. This entry is all about the Cascadian prefecture of Washington. There are 26 short stories in total -- all assigned to a particular town, city, county, mountain, region, etc. -- and each is illustrated with a scratchboard drawing by Paul G. Hoffman.
The book is divided into two parts. The first part, "Ghost Stories", is obviously all about ghosts. In general I don't find ghosts all that interesting (so-called "spectral phenomena" are usually just psychotronically induced hallucinations caused by malfunctioning mind-control devices or standing resonance waves -- deflector beanies will keep them from bothering you), so I wasn't that captivated by these stories. Your mileage may vary. (Spoilers ahead, but these all contain well-worn ghost-story tropes you'll see coming a mile away.)
If you're in the mood for some old-school roleplay gaming in a pulp-adventure milieu set between 1900 and 1940, why not try Airship Troopers: Volcanic Dinosaur Island of Doom by Oliver Parkhurst, the first release of the Zeppelin Age line. (NB: The publisher, Heliograph, sent me a free copy because they used my font, Duarte Juramento, for some of the illustration labels.)
As the name implies, the game centers around airships and exotic island locations (I assume future installments of the promised Zeppelin Age series will have airships in other scenarios). I'm not an RPG player so I can't comment too much on Heliograph's DECO System: it uses dice; is run by a Director; has Moxie Checks when your character takes damage; awards Pavlov Points to reinforce entertaining roleplay; and defines characters by Trademarks, Motivations, and Hooks.
While in our reality Zeppelins were never that successful, Airship Troopers imagines a world where they are a major form of transportation. The difference that makes this reality possible is Monarch Airways, owned by wealthy and forward-thinking Ozma Tippitarius, whose mysterious sources of funding and helium keep the airship industry aloft and thriving. The titular Airship Troopers handle Monarch security and are able to deploy from airships thanks to Rocketeer-style rocket-packs called Firebirds. Well, they actually deploy thanks to gravity; the Firebirds let them get back.
Besides the Monarch backstory, there's lots of interesting info on real Zeppelin history, technology, and operations, including a Zeppelin Owner's Operation Manual (or Z.O.O.M.). While your Zeppelin can fly for days without fear of crashing, maintaining neutral buoyancy isn't as easy as one might suspect. If you deploy personnel or cargo, you loose their weight and must compensate by venting gas, of which you only have a limited supply. If they return, you must then drop water ballast, which again is limited. Going up and down relatively quickly also means expending gas and ballast. Unless your engines are running on Blau gas, using fuel decreases weight and requires gas venting. Environmental conditions can affect the effectiveness of the gas, requiring adjustments to the gas/ballast ratio. Balancing these two resources without running too low on either to safely control the ship necessitates skill and experience.
To explain the day-to-day operations of Zeppelins, the book introduces Monarch Airways' experimental testbed, the MAA Zenobia, which was retrofitted from the real-life R-80. Included are a blueprint, walkthrough, and descriptions of crew duties.
Being transportation, airships aren't very useful unless you have somewhere to go. Where you choose to take your airship in your game is up to you, and the book's outline of the DECO system and airship info can serve to build any Zeppelin Age adventure you want. But as you've guessed from the sub-title and Chris Appel's cover art, Parkhurst has some ideas of where your Zeppelin should be headed.
Welcome to the Volcanic Dinosaur Island of Doom (or just the Island)!
The Island is an environment filled with pulpy goodness for your Airship Troopers to explore and be killed by. And yes, there are dinosaurs. You could even play as a dinosaur; the character section suggests Uncommon Descriptions that include not only a Wonderdog (à la Rin-Tin-Tin) but a Wondersaur (T. Rex-Tin-Tin?), and there's a Wondersaur named Sandy described in an example adventure in the Director's section.
All the pulp staples are here: lost cities, mad scientists, gangsters, jungle girls, Neanderthals, giant arthropods, man-eating plants, weird fungi, Nazis, the Red menace. Of course, not everything listed has to be on your game's version of the Island. They're all just suggestions. The example adventure provides character/creature stats for a number of them, but it's easy to create your own.
Of particular interest to my readers, the Island is potentially home to a menagerie of terrestrial cephalopods: lakeside croctopus, giant elephantopus of the grasslands (reminiscent of the Umbrella Beasts from "The Octopus Cycle", as seen on this pulp cover [UPDATE: more about it here]), cave-dwelling stalactopus and stalagmopus, airfaring zeptopus, and naturally forest-dwelling treetopus. Since there's already Wondersaurs, perhaps you'll consider playing as a plucky arboreal Wonderpus sidekick. Also, the mixture of tree octopuses and dinosaurs means this will happen.
Once again the citizens of Washington Prefecture, Republic of Cascadia, are forced by Federalist occupiers to vote in a primary election to decide who will be the contenders for US Senator in their general election. In 2006, ZPi endorsed two candidates as most representative of the paranoid ethic from their respective parties and thus most likely to break the stranglehold of orthonoia that allows the New World Order to enslave society.
This year, those same two candidates are running, so we at ZPi are again endorsing them.
Note that our old friend Michael Goodspaceguy Nelson -- who replied to my request for his position on monorails with a short story and poem -- has now changed his name to just Goodspaceguy. He's also apparently become a collective entity on Google. Chovil is still the lone candidate speaking out against the New World Order and his hat provides excellent beanie camouflage.
Here are their entries from the official Voter's Pamphlet:
Goodspaceguy(Prefers Democratic Party)
Ten times, voters rejected Goodspaceguy's economic program!
Other Professional Experience:
Educated in America, Sweden, and Germany, Goodspaceguy experienced international living. Goodspaceguy earned two university degrees (bachelor followed by master)with important minors in economics. Nonsmoking, nondrinking, prosperous, healthy Goodspaceguy (Minnesota born) is a life-long student of knowledge, such as economics, individual liberty, ownership, repairing, rejuvenation, space colonization.... As an amateur astronomer, Goodspaceguy sees the big picture. Goodspaceguy loves beautiful stars in the sky and in the movies. The people of Spaceship Earth are his family.
Eleven times a candidate, promoting improvements, Goodspaceguy advocates upward movement in technology, rejuvenation, and worker wealth-building.
Dear fellow sheeple, you are the fl im-fl ammed, manipulated power base. Please think of your Earth as a beautiful spaceship, traveling around your Sun in your solar system. Please think of yourselves as crewmembers, helping to operate and improve Spaceship Earth (for even the homeless.)
It is your destiny to start the orbital space colonization of your solar system. You have already spent the money! Consequently you should already have more than 200 habitats orbiting your Earth, Moon, Sun, and Mars. But you don't! Why? Because your wasteful leaders have not studied orbital space colonization. Instead, yearly, they routinely waste billions and billions of your dollars.
As a student of economics, I, Goodspaceguy, also want you to raise your wealth by increasing the profi ts and incentives that create jobs for everyone willing to work. The true unemployment rate reveals the degree of sabotage of your economy by your wasteful leaders. We are working way beneath our production-possibility curve! Let's unsabotage our economy and build a higher worker living standard. Vote for the small spenders. Defend the functioning of the competitive, free market. Please, defend the profi ts and other incentives that create our free market jobs.
To help unsabotage your economy and to increase employment for people with problems, please abolish your beloved, but evil minimum wage. Get both Washingtons out of their high-cost, low-profit, job-destroying straightjackets.
Also to unsabotage the economy, please increase the incentive for wealthy people to move to Washington State, bringing their headquarters here. Make if profi table to grow jobs in Washington State, a job-wealth-growing state of a job/wealth partnership.
If you google goodspaceguy, you'll find me and talented people who claim to be me: Goodspaceguy. Increase jobs by making employers profitable. Defend wealth building and the homeless.
For More Information:
William Edward Chovil(Prefers Republican Party)
No information submitted
Other Professional Experience:
Caregiver & defender of our Republic.
I have a Bachelor of Arts degree, and a Bachelor of Education Degree.
The Republican National Committee, the National Center for Constitutional Studies, the National Rifle Association-life member, the Gun Owners of America-life member, the Washington Arms Collectors, The National Association of Letter Carriers, the Service Employees International Union, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints - Tacoma, Stadium Ward.
What kind of America do Americans want? The one our founders planned for us? The one America's anti-founders are giving us now?
I am pro-life, pro-liberty, pro-gun, pro-audacity, pro-Sarah Palin, and John Gault, Pro-charter schools and home schools. I am against cap and trade, against Obama Care, and against the new-world-order.
For More Information:
Comics With Problems -- a site dedicated to comic books tackling serious problems, usually poorly -- has uncovered an official US Army training comic from 2001 titled "Dignity & Respect: A Training Guide On Homosexual Conduct Policy". It's ostensibly about the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, but the back cover is where the true propagandistic purpose of the book is revealed:
The modern, diverse US military, made of men and women of all colors and creeds... and miniature Black Helicopters?!
By off-handedly inserting them into this display of soldier unity in diversity, the Army was clearly trying to normalize acceptance of miniature Black Helicopters among the ranks. Deviously, they put this at the end of an otherwise unrelated comic that stresses respecting the dignity of fellow soldiers, causing a subconscious transference of all the social-conformity training from that story onto the subject of Black Helicopters without having to acknowledge they were doing so -- which would have only caused soldiers to ask such existential questions as: Why are there small, nanobiotechnological lifeforms flying around the barracks demanding respect?
When introducing shocking new realities to the uninitiated, it's best to just put it out there and pretend like there's nothing out of the ordinary going on. Most people will be too embarrassed to admit they see something everyone else doesn't and will keep quiet. And for those few who do ask questions, it always helps to have "Just shut up and stop asking questions!" as an official, enforceable policy. Is PFC Choppy a miniature Black Helicopter or is he really just short, hyperactive, and not very talkative? Don't ask! Mind your own business and just respect him as a fellow soldier!
Even more troubling though is the lower part of the image which shows that miniaturization of Simulacra android technology is more advanced than previously thought. If those mesosoldiers were common in the Army nine years ago, how long until the NWO starts introducing microscopic Ken Schrams into our food supply?
Or have they already?!
Inspired by the Paradigm Shift Awareness Clock pictured on the ZPi Research Labs page, Bob Blick has created a pocket-sized version for on-the-go paradigm shifting. He has graciously sent me one of his two prototypes:
Unlike more complicated and expensive paradigm allagimeters you can buy from obscure dealers in esoteritronics, this one is simple enough that any budding revolutionary can use it to monitor their paradigm shifting prowess. Granted it won't let one know in advance of imminent paradigm shifts -- much less shift direction, velocity, or sociocultural mass -- but the point here is not precise paradigmology. As with my original, the point is to motivate shift-inducing activity by making one aware of the lack of them.
No instructions were included, but none were needed. Oscillating dots on the display show it's sensing* the dominant paradigm. If there's no shift within a day, the number will be advanced by one. Any detected shift will reset the number to zero. Simple and to the point.
While indeed pocket-sized, its square shape also makes it a wonderful desk clock for lazy pencil-pushing revolutioneers in need of motivation. I would make one recommendation for improvement, though: the addition of a mount for an optional wrist band can turn it into a stylishly functional Paradigm Shift Awareness Watch:
No word yet on whether Blick plans to bring this exciting product to market. If he does, I'm ordering one for every Sasquatch in my employ. They've been slacking off lately.
* I only briefly peeked inside the device, so I can't say exactly how it works. I assume its paradigm-sensing abilities are based on paradigm-resonant crystals of some sort. That's what I would use, anyway.
UPDATE 2013-05-10: The Paradigm-Shift Awareness Clock has been updated.
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unless otherwise noted or implied.