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** Fri 11/20 - Christmas TV listings - ALL CHANNELS **

all time are Eastern USA - check your local listings
It's a Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie Tomorrow, 12:00 AM / FAM-E 52 Kermit the Frog and the Muppets have to scramble to raise money to save the Muppet Theater when the bank owner who holds their mortgage wants to transform the building into a casino, and they receive assistance from an angel.
Christmas Cookie Challenge - Mr. and Mrs. Claus Tomorrow, 12:00 AM / FOODTV 56 Five cookie makers try to imagine what Christmas Eve looks like for Mrs. Claus for the decorating challenge, then for the display challenge, they have to craft fireplace mantels out of cookies, using Brazil nuts, hazelnuts or macadamia nuts.
Christmas at Pemberley Manor Tomorrow, 12:00 AM / HALMRK 68 When an event planner is sent to organize a small town's holiday festival, she meets a grumpy billionaire with the perfect estate to host her event, but when the two start planning the festivities, they suddenly find themselves falling in love.
Once Upon a Christmas Miracle Tomorrow, 12:00 AM / HALLMV 84 After a young woman is told that she has less than a few months to live without a liver transplant, she meets a Marine, who is a perfect match and whose organ donation could save her life, and they soon develop a friendship which leads to romance.
A Christmas Kiss Tomorrow, 12:00 AM / UP 145 Priscilla Hall's socialite boyfriend, Adam Hughes, causes quite the battle between Priscilla and her assistant, Wendy, as the battle for his attention while decorating his home for the holidays.
The Mr. Peabody & Sherman Show - This is Your Life?; Robert Edwin Peary Tomorrow, 12:00 AM / SPROUTHD 1109 / HDTV Mr. Peabody and Sherman decide to help Hobson do all of the items on his life bucket list on live television; American explorer Robert Edwin Peary sets off on his trek to the North Pole but stops off at Santa Claus's workshop along the way.
A Christmas Wish Tomorrow, 12:01 AM / LIF-E 38 After some encouragement from her sister, a young woman decides to write down her hearts greatest desire and place it in a wooden wishing box at the park, but she questions which man she is meant to love when her wish is granted.
My Christmas Love Tomorrow, 2:00 AM / HALMRK 68 A woman's return to her small hometown takes a turn for the mysteriously romantic as she begins receiving gifts from an anonymous holiday admirer using the "12 Days of Christmas" as inspiration, giving her hope in finding true love.
The Perfect Christmas Present Tomorrow, 2:00 AM / HALLMV 84 When a businessman's friend asks him to find the perfect Christmas gift for his girlfriend, he ends up gradually falling in love with her, while doing research on her, and feels guilty as his emotions are torn between his love and his friend.
Will & Grace - A Little Christmas Queer Tomorrow, 2:00 AM / LOGO 147 The gang decides to head to Will's mother's house to join his family for a Christmas celebration, where Grace begins to warm up to Will's brother and an old flame; Jack stays busy helping to organize a special Christmas show.
The Magical Christmas Shoes Tomorrow, 2:06 AM / LIF-E 38 A young woman rediscovers the wonders of Christmas and finds herself falling in love after she steps into a pair of magical shoes.
Christmas Cookie Challenge - Center of the Season Tomorrow, 3:00 AM / FOODTV 56 Eddie Jackson presents a decorating challenge to the cookie makers where the design must be baked into the cookie itself as the judges decide which baker succeeded, then the competitors must make centerpieces made of cookies, using herbs and spices.
The Town Christmas Forgot Tomorrow, 4:00 AM / HALLMV 84 Just days before Christmas, a family's car breaks down in a town where the economy is struggling and they have little money, so the town organizes a Christmas Eve Pageant, and enlist the family's help to arrange the event.
Christmas at the Chateau Tomorrow, 5:15 AM / SHOFAM 248 A group of sisters attempt to save a historic mansion and beloved family home in their town from a corrupt bank that plans to foreclose on Christmas, but things get complicated when a sister falls in love with one of the bankers.
My Christmas Dream Tomorrow, 6:00 AM / HALMRK 68 A department store manager who wants to get to run the store's new Paris location promises the owner the store's best holiday display ever and then runs out of ideas, going to a recently-fired employee with artistic talents for inspiration.
Come Dance with Me Tomorrow, 6:00 AM / HALLMV 84 An investment expert enrolls in a waltz class to impress his fiance for Christmas, however he soon falls for his new teacher, and quickly becomes ensnared in a series of untruths when he discovers his business may ruin her dance studio.
Family Matters - Fa La La La Laaugghh! Tomorrow, 6:00 AM / TVONE 146 Despite Carl's disapproval, Steve continues to put up Christmas decoration on the house, but when Carl learns of an upcoming contest, his attitude changes; Laura and Eddie's absence from the family's Christmas activities saddens Harriette.
Annie Tomorrow, 6:03 AM / ENCORFM 378 A spunky girl who lives in an orphanage is chosen to spend the Christmas holidays with a billionaire who grows to love the child, and wants to adopt her, but her true happiness may be jeopardized by the scheming headmistress of her orphanage.
A Golden Christmas Tomorrow, 8:00 AM / LIF-E 38 A recently widowed woman decides to return to her childhood home in hopes of making a new beginning for her and her son, but her plans are impeded when she realizes that the house she grew up in has already been purchased by someone else.
A Christmas Detour Tomorrow, 8:00 AM / HALMRK 68 Two passengers with clashing personalities cross paths again in their airport hotel after their flight is forced to change course and must find a way to work together so that she can reach her destination in time for her wedding.
Christmas Song Tomorrow, 8:00 AM / HALLMV 84 The holiday season increases the already-high tension when two choral groups who were formerly rivals but have now been merged into one school must compete in a televised Christmas song competition with their directors' jobs at stake.
Transformers Rescue Bots - Christmas in July Tomorrow, 8:00 AM / D-KIDS 102 When a scorching summer hits Griffin Rock, a weather machine is built to counteract the heat, but when the contraption goes awry, it causes a colossal storm, so Cody, his family and the Rescue Bots must battle the blizzard.
Christmas at the Chateau Tomorrow, 8:15 AM / SHOFMW 256 A group of sisters attempt to save a historic mansion and beloved family home in their town from a corrupt bank that plans to foreclose on Christmas, but things get complicated when a sister falls in love with one of the bankers.
Annie Tomorrow, 9:03 AM / WAM-W 389 A spunky girl who lives in an orphanage is chosen to spend the Christmas holidays with a billionaire who grows to love the child, and wants to adopt her, but her true happiness may be jeopardized by the scheming headmistress of her orphanage.
Finding Christmas Tomorrow, 10:00 AM / HALLMV 84 After men from New York and North Carolina decide to switch residences during the holiday season, each one encounters a woman from the other's life, and as romance ensues, the time for each person to return home approaches.
Puppy Dog Pals - The Bird Beard; The Royal Egg Hunt Tomorrow, 10:00 AM / DIS-E 40 Santa and Mrs. Claus' summer vacation is threatened by a peculiar problem that the Keia and the pugs are ready to help them overcome; the pugs set off on a mission to retrieve a valuable jeweled egg that belongs to the queen of England.
Prancer Returns Tomorrow, 10:30 AM / FAM-E 52 When an eight-year-old boy finds a baby reindeer, he believes that it is one of Santa Clau's reindeer, named Prancer, and he wants to return him to the North Pole in time for Christmas Eve, thus teaching his family the true meaning of Christmas.
PAW Patrol - Pups Save a Bah Humdinger! Tomorrow, 12:00 PM / NIC-E 36 / New Mayor Humdinger is being very naughty on Christmas Eve and it's up to the Paw Patrol to help Santa and save Christmas.
Christmas Crush Tomorrow, 12:00 PM / LIF-E 38 As the holidays approach, a woman is excited to attend her upcoming high school reunion and hopes to run into her former sweetheart, and while reminiscing her school days, she considers another person she knew that could be "the one that got away."
A Christmas Miracle Tomorrow, 12:00 PM / HALLMV 84 When her boss steals her idea for their magazine's cover story, a magazine assistant goes in search of a Christmas miracle to write about with the help of her son and the staff photographer.
The Incredible Dr. Pol - Santa Paws Tomorrow, 12:00 PM / NGEOWILD 148 During the Christmas season, Dr. Pol has to handle castrations under less-than-ideal conditions, while Dr. Brenda tries to heal a reindeer in time for mating season; Dr. and Mrs. Pol serve as Grand Marshalls and Charles plays Santa for the holidays.
Annie Tomorrow, 12:23 PM / ENCORFM 378 A spunky girl who lives in an orphanage is chosen to spend the Christmas holidays with a billionaire who grows to love the child, and wants to adopt her, but her true happiness may be jeopardized by the scheming headmistress of her orphanage.
Last Christmas Tomorrow, 12:35 PM / HBO 201 A young woman who appears to have an endless amount of bad luck decides to accept a job working as an elf in a year-round Christmas store, but after a man enters her life and her life starts to change, she wonders if it's all too good to be true.
The King of Queens - Net Prophets Tomorrow, 1:00 PM / CMTV 45 Doug receives a sizeable bonus for Christmas, and Carrie refuses to entertain any option besides investment; Arthur gets into a heated competition with the neighbors over which of them can build the biggest yard ornament for the holidays.
My Best Friend's Christmas Tomorrow, 1:30 PM / SHOWOM 244 When a woman returns home for the holidays hoping to reconnect with her high school sweetheart, she meets his new girlfriend, so to escape the embarrassment, she and her best friend fake their own holiday romance, but her fake feelings turn real.
Christmas 9 to 5 Tomorrow, 2:00 PM / LIF-E 38 A crime beat reporter embarks on an undercover mission at a department store, where she pretends to be a sales clerk as she investigates the true meaning of Christmas and finds the love of her life during an unforgettable holiday season.
Welcome to Christmas Tomorrow, 2:00 PM / HALMRK 68 When a resort developer is tasked with finding a location for a new property, she finds herself in a small town, whose mayor sets on a mission to convince her to pick the charming area as the setting for her new ski resort.
Time for You to Come Home for Christmas Tomorrow, 2:00 PM / HALLMV 84 After her husband has passed away, a young woman returns to her hometown, where she meets a veteran who is on his own holiday journey, and as Christmas comes near, they learn of a bond that may be the Christmas miracle that they need.
Malcolm in the Middle - Christmas Trees Tomorrow, 2:00 PM / FUSE 109 Hal and the boys come up with a scheme where they can sell Christmas trees for some extra holiday-spending cash, but encounter a problem when members of the local clergy take offense to what they are doing and pressure them to stop.
The Top Ten Revealed - Rockin' Christmas Songs Tomorrow, 2:00 PM / HDNET 1303 Guests Dee Snider, Don Felder, Alan Parsons and Sebastian Bach reveal some of the best songs about Christmas to get one in the spirit of rocking.
The Family Stone Tomorrow, 2:10 PM / HBO2 202 A successful businessman brings his straight-laced and uptight fiancée home to meet his free-thinking, high-spirited and rebellious family for Christmas, but he runs into problems after he tries to give her the heirloom wedding ring.
Last Christmas Tomorrow, 2:25 PM / HBOL-W 214 Una joven que parece que la mala suerte la sigue a todos lados, decide aceptar un trabajo en una tienda en la época navideña, pero se tiene que disfrazar de elfo, así que cuando conoce a un apuesto joven, su vida cambia para siempre.
Annie Tomorrow, 3:23 PM / WAM-W 389 A spunky girl who lives in an orphanage is chosen to spend the Christmas holidays with a billionaire who grows to love the child, and wants to adopt her, but her true happiness may be jeopardized by the scheming headmistress of her orphanage.
In Living Color - Veracosa: Mistress of Destruction Tomorrow, 3:30 PM / ASPIRE 180 Comedy sketches include: "Vera DeMilo: Veracosa, Mistress of Destruction," "Cephus and Reesie: Christmas Album," and "Homey the Clown: Homey Clause."
Last Christmas Tomorrow, 3:35 PM / HBOWAL 208 A young woman who appears to have an endless amount of bad luck decides to accept a job working as an elf in a year-round Christmas store, but after a man enters her life and her life starts to change, she wonders if it's all too good to be true.
A Christmas in Tennessee Tomorrow, 4:00 PM / LIF-E 38 When a real estate developer comes to White Pines, Tennessee, three bakers and the townspeople must find a way to prevent the man from building a ski resort on top of their town, but an unexpected visitor with a sweet-tooth may have a solution.
Scrooged Tomorrow, 4:00 PM / AMCALL 64 The executive of a major TV network nearly ruins a holiday after he fires a low-level aide, exploits his good-hearted secretary and trashes a holiday show on Christmas Eve, but visitations from various ghosts manage to show him the error of his ways.
On the 12th Date of Christmas Tomorrow, 4:00 PM / HALMRK 68 Two game designers who hardly seem compatible with each other work together to organize a large scavenger hunt with a romantic "12 Days of Christmas" theme.
Meet Me at Christmas Tomorrow, 4:00 PM / HALLMV 84 When her sons wedding planner unexpectedly quits, his mother must coordinate his Christmas Eve wedding with the help of the brides uncle, but as they work alongside each other, they discover that their fates and pasts are intertwined.
My Best Friend's Christmas Tomorrow, 4:30 PM / SHOWMW 252 When a woman returns home for the holidays hoping to reconnect with her high school sweetheart, she meets his new girlfriend, so to escape the embarrassment, she and her best friend fake their own holiday romance, but her fake feelings turn real.
The Family Stone Tomorrow, 5:10 PM / HBO2W 209 A successful businessman brings his straight-laced and uptight fiancée home to meet his free-thinking, high-spirited and rebellious family for Christmas, but he runs into problems after he tries to give her the heirloom wedding ring.
It Happened on Fifth Avenue Tomorrow, 5:25 PM / WTVT-DT2 613 / MOVIES! When a family leaves their luxurious New York City mansion unattended for a vacation during the Christmas holiday season, a small group of homeless people decide to utilize the opportunity to make the residence their home for a few days.
Christmas a La Mode Tomorrow, 6:00 PM / LIF-E 38 A dairy farmer is determined to keep her family's legacy alive in the midst of hard times by hosting an ice cream flavor contest during Christmas, but her sister intends to sell off her shares if she cannot raise enough money in time.
Christmas Town Tomorrow, 6:00 PM / HALMRK 68 A woman decides to leave her old life behind in Boston and to set sail on a new chapter in her career and personal life, but a detour to a different town leads her to make new and unexpected discoveries about the heart and family.
Looks Like Christmas Tomorrow, 6:00 PM / HALLMV 84 Two single parents battle for control of the Christmas holiday at the middle school their children attend and learn a lesson about the true meaning of Christmas, and they also wind up opening themselves to the possibility of a new romance.
Family Matters - Fa La La La Laaugghh! Tomorrow, 6:00 PM / TVONE 146 Despite Carl's disapproval, Steve continues to put up Christmas decoration on the house, but when Carl learns of an upcoming contest, his attitude changes; Laura and Eddie's absence from the family's Christmas activities saddens Harriette.
Annie Tomorrow, 6:27 PM / ENCORFM 378 A spunky girl who lives in an orphanage is chosen to spend the Christmas holidays with a billionaire who grows to love the child, and wants to adopt her, but her true happiness may be jeopardized by the scheming headmistress of her orphanage.
Jingle All the Way Tomorrow, 8:00 PM / TNT 33 A mattress salesman with the habit of putting his work ahead of his family scrambles around the city fighting crowds and other overzealous parents in a desperate search for the prized toy of the year, a Turbo Man, for his attention-starved son.
A Taste of Christmas Tomorrow, 8:00 PM / LIF-E 38 After learning her cousin has to cancel the Christmas Eve launch of her new restaurant, a woman tries to find a way to make the opening happen, but she must convince the restaurant chef they can pull it off with three days until Christmas.
Christmas with the Darlings Tomorrow, 8:00 PM / HALMRK 68 After an assistant gives her final notice, she gets drawn into helping the younger brother of her wealthy boss as he looks after his orphaned nieces and nephew through the Christmas season.
Top Elf - Tis the Season to be Top Elf Tomorrow, 8:30 PM / NIC-E 36 For the second time in history, Santa Claus transports seven extraordinary elf contestants to the North Pole to compete for the title of Top Elf, and social media star Addison Rae joins Santa and Ms. Jingles to judge life-sized advent calendar.
Great Performances - Irving Berlin's Holiday Inn: The Broadway Musical Tomorrow, 9:00 PM / WEDU-DT 3 / PBS / HDTV The Broadway adaptation of the classic 1942 movie musical "Holiday Inn," showcases the score by Irving Berlin, with big dance numbers, comedy and a hit parade of some of the songwriter's famous songs, including the Oscar-winning "White Christmas."
An Old Fashioned Christmas Tomorrow, 9:00 PM / HALLDRMHD 1124 / HDTV When an aspiring writer and her wealthy grandmother travel to Ireland to get her work published, they meet a family who are in desperate need of her fortune and try to make her fall in love, so they can inherit her wealth.
Annie Tomorrow, 9:27 PM / WAM-W 389 A spunky girl who lives in an orphanage is chosen to spend the Christmas holidays with a billionaire who grows to love the child, and wants to adopt her, but her true happiness may be jeopardized by the scheming headmistress of her orphanage.
Christmas at the Plaza Tomorrow, 10:00 PM / HALMRK 68 With the holiday season approaching, an archival historian in a declining relationship gets hired to create an exhibition to honor the history of an event, and she ends up working with a decorator and soon finds herself falling in love.
A Very Charming Christmas Town Tomorrow, 10:05 PM / LIF-E 38 A travel and lifestyle blogger heads to a small Danish town in California to write about their extravagant Christmas celebration, but she clashes with the local community coordinator assigned to give her a tour of the village.
Biggest Little Christmas Showdown Tomorrow, 11:01 PM / HGTV 57 / New A group of miniaturists, people who make and collect miniature objects, competes to create tiny holiday homes and villages that boast a Christmastime theme, and the winning exhibit is to be recreated as a full-size vacation home
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Coastguard #9 - Those Whose Sins Mark Their Bodies

DCNext Proudly Presents…!

COASTGUARD

Issue #9: Those Whose Sins Mark Their Bodies

Written by Fortanono
Edited by dwright5252, AdamantAce
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Meet-and-greets were always Marc Silvera’s favorite part of the day. Back in his youth, he loved the thrill of heroism, the adrenaline that came with fighting against dangerous people and bringing them to justice. Now, it was much less about adrenaline as it was before; he got his enjoyment from knowing that he made others’ lives just a little bit safer, helping them sleep more easily. Luckily, Josiah Power’s booths in the Polynesia Resort’s cafeteria boiled that right down to a science.
Dan and Courtney would always get the most fans, considering that they ran their own media platforms at one point; Helga and Curtis would occasionally hang around his booth for the fans. Ray and Thunder each had their own devoted lines, with their fans from Tulsa and Metropolis often making pilgrimages to New Coast to visit them. The ceremonially empty booth to the left of Marc was there for Vibe, who had attracted a lot of people placing down flowers and mementos, paying their respects. It was still hard for Marc to believe that he was really gone.
Marc’s was always the shortest line. He knew why; for a long time, the second Commander Steel was a small-town urban legend whose existence was unconfirmed. The name was also associated with a military group that many disapproved of or outright loathed, Marc himself chief among them after all these years, who was a willing participant in it. Finally, there was the third reason: Commander Steel was not a welcoming figure to most. His helmet kept out any sign that he was even a human, which was no longer a valid assumption for superheroes. In a lot of ways, he understood why children would even be scared of him. He liked to pretend that this didn’t bother him, but he knew deep down that it did, just a little.
Even still, he did have several people who came over to meet him. A tall woman with red hair and excessive amounts of makeup walked up to him, her young son in tow. He couldn’t have been more than seven years old, Marc thought. He sat down on a wooden chair nearby and smiled behind his mask.
“Hello there,” Marc chuckled. “What’s your name, young man?”
“Collin,” he smiled, hiding his face in his hands, his dirty mop of red hair covering his eyes.
Marc laughed heartily, almost as if he were a mall Santa. He felt like the kids needed to know that he wasn’t as scary as he seemed behind the mask, and laughing was the best way of doing that. Collin couldn’t see how wide he was smiling behind the visage, the tear of joy running down one of his eyes. “Now Collin, why don’t you sit on my lap and we can take a picture together?”
“Yeah!” Collin said. “I love you, Commander Steel. I want to be a superhero like you when I grow up.”
“Oh, is that so?” Marc said joyfully, smiling as Collin climbed up into his lap. He hid a grimace; as much as he enjoyed the job, seeing someone so young determined to be someone who put their life on the line was very off-putting to him. The camera flashed, taking a picture of Collin with his hero, and Marc just let the moment rush over him.
“Remember to enjoy your stay at New Coast Polynesia Resort!” he called out behind them as they left the line. He always felt weird saying that, but Josiah told them to, and it wasn’t like he didn’t want them to have a fun vacation.
The next person moved forward in the line, a teenage boy wearing a camo button-down shirt. “Hey, Commander Steel,” he said gleefully. “You’re so awesome. It’s so cool that I get to meet you.”
Marc went through the rounds, but he wasn’t focused on the boy anymore. Instead, Marc stared transfixed as the next woman in line, a middle-aged Black woman with a short bob of shoulder-length grey hair, wearing a black dress with grey and blue accents. His stomach dropped as he finished up with the kid in camo, turning to the woman in front of him.
“Jenna,” he said, coming out as little more than a breath. He stood up from his chair. “Why are you here?”
“Trust me,” she said with her lips pursed. “I didn’t want to come just as much as you probably don’t want to see me. Something came up.”
Marc stared at her, not saying anything.
“Richards’ sentence is up,” Jenna muttered coldly. “I was hoping he’d changed, but he’s on a bus straight to New Coast. I just wanted to warn you and your team, knowing what he’s capable of.”
“Yes, of course,” Marc said as his former wife left the line. He turned to her and called out as she walked away. “Hey, hey, you have a fantastic rest of your life, whatever you’re doing.” She didn’t respond.
Marc turned to the next guest, his mind not fully there. As his experience with Jenna faded from his mind, he realized that something much worse was about to happen, and he had to warn the team about it.
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“Okay,” Curtis said, his back against the wall of Room 103. The members of Coastguard were gathered in their costumes, having come back from the meet-and-greet minutes earlier. “A quick recap on the Phosphorus situation for Courtney: We’ve been able to take out some street-level guys who were peddling narcotics, but none of them claimed they had ever seen the man’s face. He apparently keeps very little company; only those he trusts ever see who he truly is.”
“By the way,” Anissa said, “Congrats to Courtney for the awesome work she’s done in Opal City! We’re starting to see headlines roll in, and it’s very impressive.” Immediately, everyone in the room around them began to clap and cheer, turning to Courtney who was sitting in her new red-and-green costume.
Courtney looked between her teammates and smiled. “Thanks guys,” she said. “It means a lot.” She turned to Curtis, her expression turning more serious. “Anything on ThirteenthFloor? That seemed like a really big deal when I left, but no mention of it so far.”
Curtis nodded. “Yeah, yeah, that’s a thing. Helga and I are working on reverse-engineering the tech in the buildings, but no results yet. Anyone else have pressing concerns?”
Helga raised her hand. “As you may recall,” she began, “Acrata managed to escape from New Coast after arrest. I recently received word that she may be returning to the city, planning something big. If you spot her, do not be light when apprehending her, and bring her to me as soon as you can.”
“Dammit,” Dan said. “I was hoping I’d never have to see her again. That fight kept me sore for days. We’ll be on the lookout if she returns.”
“Anything else?” Curtis asked.
Marc removed his mask and raised his hand slowly. “Yes,” he said meekly. “Unfortunately, there’s… someone else has shown up here. An old enemy. Curtis, bring up records for Mark Richards, also known as the Tattooed Man.”
Curtis turned to a nearby monitor and began searching the web. He pulled out a mugshot of a tall, bald man with a tattoo of a dragon coiled around the top of his head. On the side of one of his cheeks was another tattoo, a small piece that resembled a rose with a thorny stem. “This your guy?”
“Yes,” Marc said. He stood up and took a deep breath, addressing his teammates. “A long time ago, I lived in a small town in Maryland called Liberty Hill. Standard small-town fare; most of the criminals were just normal people who had a bad run. This man was different. He showed up, and within months he had killed any gang members who didn’t work for him. With every man he murdered, he got a new tattoo, and these weren’t ordinary tattoos. They gave him powers, and every time I fought him he had a new trick up his sleeve.”
He sighed and paused before continuing. “I became obsessed with him. It was unhealthy, and it cost me my marriage. Finally, 15 years ago, I caught him. He served his time, and now it seems like he’s come back for revenge. I'd like to humbly request your help in finding him and making sure he doesn't cause further harm. Mark Richards is incredibly dangerous, and we need to treat any encounter we have with him with utmost caution. He will kill us if we don’t.”
The room fell silent for a few seconds before Curtis broke the silence. “Okay,” he said. “The Tattooed Man, Public Enemy Number One. Don’t worry, Marc; we will make sure that we stop him before he can hurt us.”
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Mark Richards knocked on the door of a townhouse in what looked like any other upscale neighborhood. This development was designed by one of Josiah Power’s friends, he had remembered, but it had never seen use as the designer’s company went down for fraud several months ago. Even though it looked like an ordinary housing development, a far cry from the tourist trap in New Coast’s city center, it was also the home of many of New Coast’s more sinister elements. With the development never having been in use, it was the perfect place for shadowy figures to hide in such a bright city.
The skull on Mark’s forearm sensed some sort of danger. Mark willed it to be quiet as a young woman, tall and lanky with blonde hair and blue accents, opened the door. She seemed to have a lot of tattoos herself. “Wow,” she said, staring at him up and down. “I’m going to need the name of your inker. That is some good art.”
“I’ve had a lot of inkers,” Mark chuckled. “My first tattoo was from a slave-driver in Moldora. The second one was from a serial killer. I tend to get them from the worst of the worst, and it pays off.”
“Ooh, nice,” she said. “I take it you’re here to see the big man? I’m sure he’ll be glad to see you. You should hope so, at least.”
Mark nodded. “I believe we already had an appointment scheduled.”
“You are correct,” she laughed. “He's been talking about you all day.”
Mark walked into the house and down the corridor to a room at the end. If an ordinary homeowner lived here, the room he entered would probably be furnished as a dining room, possibly as a playroom for their children. However, the New Coast crime lord that lived here had turned the room into a sort of makeshift casino; slot machines padded the sides of the walls while a poker table served as the room’s centerpiece.
In the far corner were two couches, on one of which sat the man Mark presumed to be Phosphorus. He looked young and arrogant at first glance, reminding Mark of a cocky kid who thought he could run a business back in Liberty Hill, but who would always fall to Mark in the end. The heart tattoo on the left side of Mark’s chest came from him; his sins were driven by his heart rather than his brain, and that’s why Mark had defeated him. It was a fitting tattoo to remember him by. The major difference between Phosphorus and that kid was abundantly clear, though. Phosphorus wore an unbuttoned white jacket with no shirt; across his chest and extending down his left arm, his skin glowed a brilliant red-orange. Underneath the glow, Mark could see his ribcage, lit up by the man’s special ability.
“Heh, on time I see,” Phosphorus chuckled. “I knew I could count on you.”
Mark took a seat on the couch across from the crime lord. “Of course,” he said. “This business is always about impressions, and I’ve come to know that that means dependability as well as fear. Meet your opponents first, before you destroy them. And I believe that in a couple of months, I may have to destroy you.
“So it’s true then,” Phosphorus said. “You’re gonna hang around a while? That’s unfortunate. Oh well.”
“Nice to meet you. I’d shake your hand, but I’ve been told that’s not really a good idea.” Mark stretched out on the couch, throwing his arms behind his back. “So you’re the Phosphorus, huh? I expected someone a little older to have been behind the work you’ve done. It’s impressive.”
“Call me Alec,” Phosphorus said. He paused for a second. “I’m old enough. Besides, I’ve got a damn good reason why I’m doing this. Pardon the wordplay, but it’s a fire in my heart, so to speak, y’know? A drive.”
Before Mark could respond, Alec’s breathing started tensing up. He turned his head to the doorway of the room. “Melanie! Food!” he shouted. The blonde woman from before quickly came over with a man in a suit, tied up and restrained. She dropped him at Alec’s feet before leaving, not saying a single word.
The man’s expression turned frantic. “No, wait, please. Do anything. Ta--take my kids, instead. My wife. I can help you!” He was quickly shut up by Alec’s searing-hot left hand on his mouth, as the man quickly vaporized into thin air. Only a skeleton remained of where he was once standing.
“Wow,” Mark said, shaking his head. “That is impressive, I have to say. Not exactly a good dude there, either. Guess you know how to pick ‘em.”
“Yeah,” Alec laughed. “I only eat the rich types, people who have no spine or soul. That, and people who disappoint me, of course.” Alec paused for a second. “You know, I never wanted to be a criminal. I started this because I had to; if I don’t feed, I’ll die, and feeding ain’t exactly something you want to do in the open. But now? I’d say it feels pretty good. Not perfect, y’know? But it’s getting there.”
Mark nodded. “I get it, I really do. You know, you and I have the same power, so to speak.”
Alec gave him a confused look.
Mark cleared his throat. “I was on deployment in Moldora several years ago. I was a young soldier, about your age, and I had just killed a few men for the first time. Every day, their voices screamed in my head. So we were taking down this horrible waste of a human being; he had enslaved thousands of men, women and children to work for the worst kind of people. And the night before the raid, I asked him how he did it. That man showed me the art of sin-grafting; for every sin he committed, he added just a bit more ink to his body. He kept the memories of those he killed in the tattoos. Well, I thought it was bullshit, but then he tattooed this dragon onto me.” He pointed at his first and favorite tattoo, the dragon that coiled around his bald head.
“From that day on, whenever I kill someone, I tattoo myself with something to remind me of them. And I always use this special ink, which gives the tattoo life. Power. Doesn’t make it right, but it makes it damn near worth it. Now you, you have to kill people to live. I dunno how you got into that predicament, but you realized the same thing I did. If you get power from your sins, then it’s more than worth committing them, don’tcha think?”
Alec’s expression soured. “I think you’re fucking wrong about me,” he said. He stood up, towering over Mark. The skull on his shoulder sensed that he was in an incredible amount of danger. Mark said nothing; he wanted to see where this would go.
“I’m not a monster,” Alec huffed. “I was a good kid who wanted to do the right thing, and this bitch made me into who I am now. And my father just lets her stay by his side. He doesn’t notice shit. He doesn’t realize who that woman is. And so I’m here to fucking destroy the city he’s created, to burn it down to the bedrock on which it stands.”
Mark raised an eyebrow. “Your father is Josiah Power? I see it. I think you’ll realize you’re a lot more like him than you imagine.”
Alec lunged at Mark, nearly putting a hand on him. Acting quickly, Mark summoned the dragon from the tattoo on his head. Immediately, the ink turned into a violet energy construct of a serpent, lunging forward at Alec and releasing a sonic blast. Alec flew across the room, landing among the slot machines on the other wall.
“See, you’ve got this terrifying power,” Mark chided. “But I got so many years on you it’s hard to imagine. That, Alec, is why I will take this city.”
Alec writhed in pain as Mark stood over him and left. This was not the pain he felt when he hadn’t fed in a while, nor was it the pain he felt from Mark knocking him into the wall. No, this was omnipresent, coating every nerve of his body like it did when he was hungry, but ten times stronger. He cried out, bringing himself to his feet and stumbling out the door of the room. He had someone he needed to see.
≈≈≈≈≈ 🔱 ≈≈≈≈≈
“Help,” Alec gulped, grabbing Helga’s wrist in the hallway of the New Coast Polynesia Resort. He was wearing gloves, of course; he couldn’t let anyone else know about his abilities. Nearly collapsing, Alec straightened himself using Helga’s body as a support.
“Alec,” Helga said, faking a smile. “You know, you are the last person I expected to see today. I have to say, I am very impressed with what you’ve managed to accomplish with your abilities. Seems like they’re treating you better than I had expected.” She paused for a second, looking around for bystanders. There were none. “Come into Room 104 with me, and we can talk. I don’t want to have to do to any others what I did to you.”
The two of them walked further down the hall, entering Helga’s personal lab as Helga closed the door behind him. It was just as pristine, Alec thought, as the one Helga had imprisoned him in, although it was considerably smaller. Alec had only seen the inside of this lab from the small glimpse he had gotten when he had asked Helga to help save the day. The worst mistake of his life, Alec thought. He cared about his father for one moment, wanted to help save his life, and it cost him gravely.
“I take it you have questions about your newfound powers?” Helga turned to the door and latched it shut. “Don’t worry; I’ve soundproofed the room much better since our last encounter. I could yell at the top of my lungs that you were Phosphorus, and Curtis in the next room wouldn’t do so much as to look up from his computer.”
Alec nodded. “You said that this power would kill me. Everything’s starting to hurt like a bitch; I fed on my way here and it didn’t help. I need answers.”
“Well,” Helga said, “I wish I could give you all the answers you need. Primer is a very imprecise science, and it reacts differently for every person that it works on. That being said, none of the powers triggered by your specific primer have killed anyone in less than 6 months. Trust me when I say I’ve done extensive research on this one.”
Alec winced. He imagined Helga Jace, the kind hearted TV personality dedicated to treating people with metahuman conditions, giving hundreds of people the same treatment he had. It made so little sense, but with what he had seen of Helga in the past few months, it still fit perfectly.
Helga continued as Alec sat himself down on a nearby hospital bed draped in thin paper. “That being said, any sort of pain you might experience is par for the course, and none of it is a sign of your impending death. Most of it will make you want to die, but you’ll be fine for several more months at least. Now, unfortunately, I still have work to do that my team can’t know about, so curing you would not benefit me. But so far, you’ve been exemplary in your discretion about these matters. Not to mention the immense distraction you’re providing for them; they barely have time to think about anything I’m doing.”
Alec nodded. He resisted attacking Helga outright, as he knew she was his only chance at salvation. That did not mean that he wasn’t ready to do so. Instead, he looked her in the eyes and weakly spoke. “Will this new pain go away?”
“Hard to tell. I could help run some tests, but as hard as it may seem to imagine, I don’t know everything about every power that comes my way. Most likely, though, there will be high points and low points, as there are with every disease. I can tell from your demeanor, for example, that you’re feeling significantly less pain than when you literally grabbed me, even if it doesn’t feel that way. By the way, don’t scare an old lady like that, especially with your specific ability.” Helga chuckled wildly. Alec felt sick to his stomach, even though these past few months had hardened him. This, he thought, was what true monsters looked like.
“Fine,” Alec said, standing up. “You know what? I don’t need any more help. I got money, I got power, I got ladies, and it’s all because of your experiment. When the power does start to kill me, I’ll be here. But until then, I’m not coming through this door again.”
Alec left Room 104 and began to leave the hotel. Helga was right; as he got up, the pain had begun to fade. After a few seconds, it had all but disappeared for the time being. He got to the lobby, where he immediately noticed a new complication. Josiah Power, his father, was standing over the desk, talking to the receptionist. Before he could turn the other way, he saw Alec standing there. He fell silent, his gaze softening.
“Alec,” he muttered, coming closer. “I thought… I thought you left the city.”
The rage that Alec felt that first night in the hotel began to bubble up again, but he kept it down. “Hey, Dad. Yeah, I was gone for a while, but I’m… I couldn’t leave.” He paused, considering his next words carefully. “I think I’m ready to talk to you again.”
“That’s fantastic,” Josiah smiled. “Take your time; you don’t owe me anything. But if you want, maybe we could get dinner sometime?”
Alec nodded. “I think I’d like that.” It was a lie, he told himself; he had to come up with something on the spot. But it worked in his favor; if he had a relationship with his father again, the betrayal would be much sweeter when he got to that point. He couldn’t wait to see Josiah’s face as he realized who he truly was. But that had to wait.
As he left the lobby, he smiled. The pain may come back, but those who deserved it would also feel his pain in due time.
≈≈≈≈≈ 🔱 ≈≈≈≈≈
”Alright,” Curtis said through his microphone. ”We’ve spotted the Tattooed Man in Kim’s area. Anyone currently in the field, converge on 44th Street and H. We need to take him down sooner than later.”
“Got it,” Ray said, hovering high above Josiah’s central shopping district in New Coast before taking off due west. Below him, Thunder, Blue Devil and Commander Steel patrolled the streets; each of them began to make their way to the location in question through a series of Dan’s portals. As he arrived on location, Ray began to take in the sites around him.
The area of the city that one of Josiah’s associates, Terrence Kim, developed felt much more like a normal city than a theme park. That said, it still felt like a theme park, if only because of how sleek and untouched the buildings were. Towering white-and-blue skyscrapers surrounded the wide streets of this area, with tropical foliage in planter boxes along the sidewalks. Palm trees dotted the curbsides, which featured parking spaces where the cars would face the curb. What took Ray by surprise the most, however, was how empty this part was. Not all of Kim’s territory was available to the public yet; only the bare minimum was completed.
Ray landed on the street as Dan, Anissa and Marc portalled in behind him. Several blocks ahead of them, the Tattooed Man was smoking a cigar. He quickly noticed them and put it out before turning to them.
The Tattooed Man let out a hearty chuckle as he took a few steps forward. “Well, well, well. You finally found me. Hey Marc, how’s the missus doing? You know, I could tell that she was stalking me when I got out. I served my time, why do I need to get harassed for what I’ve already done?”
“Seems like it was well worth it,” Commander Steel said. “Considering where you ended up, Mark, you can’t take the high ground here..”
“This small talk was never my favorite part. Let’s get this over with.” Two violet wings of energy sprouted from the Tattooed Man’s back, allowing him to tower over the other heroes. Ray immediately met him in the sky. From a sword tattoo on his left arm, he summoned a blade of energy that he immediately gripped with both hands before charging at Ray.
Ray dodged the Tattooed Man’s first attack, responding with a barrage of light blasts. From the ground, Commander Steel fired his own bolts of energy from the wrist-cannons Helga had designed for him. The sword dissolved and was replaced by a shield that grew from a small tattoo on the back of the criminal’s left hand. For several seconds, the Tattooed Man sustained the heroes’ continuous fire, but it was interrupted when the Blue Devil portalled onto the shield and began punching at it over and over again. The Tattooed Man dissolved the shield and dived out of the way, flying higher to avoid further attacks. Ray chased after him and Dan portalled himself back onto the ground.
“Now this, this is fun,” the villain chuckled to himself. “Marc, why couldn’t you learn to fly, or build some glider or something? Sky battles are awesome!” The dragon on the top of the Tattooed Man’s head came loose, chasing after Ray. He fired out a concentrated beam of light while flying away, but the dragon kept going. Before he could stop it, the dragon screamed, letting loose a powerful high-pitched sound, and Ray fell to the floor.
The Tattooed Man landed on the ground, his wings dissolving as he stood over the fallen hero. “Now this will be a fun one to ink. I wonder, how should I remember you by? I’d do a lightbulb, but I don’t think you’re that bright to begin with.”
A bolt of energy from Marc’s cannon stopped the villain from finishing Ray off, hitting his right shoulder and making him turn to the other heroes. Thunder leapt up onto the side of a nearby high-rise, tackling the criminal from behind as he was distracted. She began to force a pair of handcuffs onto him, but the Tattooed Man quickly summoned his wings again, knocking Thunder down as he turned to the skies.
The lightning tattoo on the villain’s right arm began to let out a violet glow. From the skies, he fired powerful beams of lightning. The first hit Anissa, knocking her down; the second and third were fired at Commander Steel. A metal shield expanded from the hero’s own right arm, protecting him. As the Tattooed Man flew down, a portal from the Blue Devil intercepted him and brought him face-to-face with the two heroes left standing.
The Tattooed Man readied another bolt, knocking Dan clean out. “Now,” he chided, “it’s just the two of us. Like old times, isn’t it?” He resummoned the sword and began exchanging blows with the soldier. Commander Steel quickly discharged another energy blast, which knocked the Tattooed Man a few steps backwards as he began to charge up another lightning bolt.
He stopped. The skull tattoo on his shoulder began to sense another presence nearby.
From above, another hero flew down, clad in a pristine silver costume with glowing accents. In the center was the letter “T” in a circle, clearly the symbol of the hero Mister Terrific. He glided on what looked like two green glowing disks that appeared to be made of pure energy. He looked down at some sort of holographic console emanating from his wrist. The Tattooed Man quickly recognized that this must be the Blue Devil’s associate, the one who once worked for Mister Terrific. The villain was used to recognizing Commander Steel’s body language, even behind that mask of his, and he knew that his enemy was just as surprised as he was.
The new hero’s drones quickly surrounded the Tattooed Man, opening fire with green laser-blasts all around him. The Tattooed Man couldn’t take it, and quickly fell unconscious himself.
”Hey,” Curtis said as he flew down. ”I noticed you needed help.”
≈≈≈≈≈ 🔱 ≈≈≈≈≈
“So, wait,” Ray began to say as the heroes converged in Room 103. Helga had just finished performing medical care on the three members of Coastguard who were knocked out during the battle, and they were now calling a meeting to discuss what had happened. “You’re--you’re a hero now? When?”
Curtis nodded. “Not always; I’ll be on comms for a lot of the time. But when you guys need it, Helga and I developed this suit. I’ll be calling myself the Technocrat.”
“Cool,” Ray said. He poked at the Technocrat suit, which was standing up in the corner of the room, connected to a charger.
“I’d have to disagree,” Anissa said. “Curtis, you’re incredibly important to us. We can’t risk something happening to you.”
Curtis nodded. “Well, unfortunately, it’s not really your choice. I’ll make extra sure to choose my battles; don’t worry. But it’s important to me that you are all safe. The Tattooed Man would’ve killed all of you if I hadn’t come out there. And with Courtney in Opal half the time and Cisco… you know… we need more hands on deck.”
“He would’ve killed you, too, if he had known you were coming,” Anissa remarked. “And now, everyone who comes to New Coast will know about you. Nothing’s changed; you just had the element of surprise this time.”
Dan, who was sitting in the corner, finally spoke up. “Look,” he said. “I get why you’re worried, Anissa, I really do. I’m worried, too; like, really terrified outta my mind that my friend’s gonna get hurt doing this. But if there’s someone who can pull off this stuff, it’s Curtis. I wouldn’t try and stop him, either; he’s a very stubborn man.”
“Alright,” Anissa huffed. “But I’m not gonna like it.”
“The only question,” Marc laughed, “is what flavor of ice cream he’s gonna be. I can’t think of any grey ice-creams.”
“That’s for Josiah to figure out,” Curtis smiled. “If I had to pick? Probably mint chocolate-chip. All of your weird fruit flavors are upsetting to the palate.”
Everyone laughed around them, except for Anissa. It still didn’t feel right for Curtis to be going out there, and she knew that feeling wouldn’t change. But they were right; she had to deal with it.
≈≈≈≈≈ 🔱 ≈≈≈≈≈
Mark Richards woke up. His surroundings didn’t feel familiar, but they clearly weren’t any sort of prison. The building he found himself in was some sort of makeshift cabin made of wood. He was tied to a wooden chair on a grass floor. He looked at the ceiling; above him, the panels of wood were ornately painted in patterns of green and silver.
“Where am I?” he asked, dazed.
A man walked over to him in a red-and-brown robe. Draped over him was a green cape decorated with one glowing red gemstone on it. The first thing Mark noticed about his face was his two piercing green eyes, which seemed to see into his soul.
“Greetings, Mark,” the man said. “I know you have many questions, but trust me when I say I am not an enemy.”
Mark chuckled dryly. “When I’m tied to a chair like this, that’s usually hard to imagine.”
“We both know that those bindings would not hold you if you did not want them to,” the man said in a monotone voice. “We simply had to restrain you, as you tended to flail around when unconscious.” He walked over to Mark and untied the knots that kept him tied to the chair. “My name is Samuel, and we have the same goals: to destroy Coastguard and to rule New Coast City. I am gathering people close to the Coastguard, people with vendettas against their members. You fit these criteria easily; another one of these people has already been clamoring to meet you.”
A tall, thin man with pale skin and dark hair walked over to him. He wore a suit and tie that had clearly been hastily put on. Mark stood up and shook his hand.
“Hi,” he smiled, speaking in a nasal voice. “Michael Clarion, occultist extraordinaire. Pleased to meet you. I also just got out of prison. Now, I have a lot of questions about your tattoos. They are mystical in origin, correct? I’m very interested to discuss the finer points of this with you.”
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Wrestling Observer Rewind ★ Feb. 8, 1988

Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words, continuing in the footsteps of daprice82. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives.
• PREVIOUS •
1987
FUTURE YEARS ARCHIVE:
The Complete Observer Rewind Archive by daprice82
1-4-1988 1-11-1988 1-18-1988 1-25-1988
2-1-1988
  • The wrestling war is, for all intents and purposes, over. The war between the territories, the ongoing collapse of the territory system, and Vince McMahon’s rise is certainly the biggest story in decades, and at this point the war is over and Vince McMahon has won. Sure, the fighting is still ongoing, but even if JCP can recover from their troubles, the gap between them and WWF is there and it’s just going to keep widening.
  • The biggest story of the week is that WWF has announced its ppv schedule for the next year. March 27 (Wrestlemania IV), August 29, November 24 (Survivor Series), and January 15 (Royal Rumble). Four ppvs doesn’t look like a big deal, just capitalization on the market trend. But it’s going to have a major effect on Crockett. Crockett had been planning ppv shows in early April (Crockett Cup), July (Great American Bash), and November 24 (Starrcade). With WWF’s new calendar and the exclusivity clause in their ppv deals requiring no competing wrestling ppv events 60 days before and 21 days after their shows and the success of Survivor Series and Wrestlemania IV (presumed for that one - Dave expects Wrestlemania IV to be the biggest grossing ppv ever to this point), WWF is putting the squeeze to Crockett. And in doing so, they’re killing any chance Crockett can compete and break into the ppv market. Long-term, ppv is going to mean live gates will be completely insignificant (like it already is in boxing - and hey, in 2020 we have seen the prophecy fulfilled). Because of ppv, Dave expects Wrestlemania IV to gross as much as every other American promotion will gross for the entirety of 1988, combined. Hence why the gap is wide and will only get wider, and JCP will never catch up. JCP’s going to try to counter, and the apparent move will be to shift those events to prime-time WTBS live (or very recently filmed, like a Saturday Night’s Main Event) specials all built as major cards. Starrcade probably will not be among those, Dave figures this will help.
  • WWF’s Royal Rumble came out the clear winner against the Bunkhouse Stampede Finals. The Rumble drew an 8.2 rating and was seen in 3.2 million homes, which is twice as many people as when Georgia Championship Wrestling’s show on WTBS was big several years ago when this wrestling war was getting started. It’s the highest rated show in the history of the USA network, and the encore broadcast on Monday drew a 4.8 rating (a regular episode of Prime Time Wrestling in that time slot usually draws a 2.9). All this means that the repeat showing of the Rumble was probably the second highest rated show on cable during the last week.
  • PPV numbers take longer to get, but it’s possible to make some sense of preliminary reports for the Bunkhouse Finals. The show was likely profitable, purely in terms of money, but the reaction was strongly negative. Early reports estimate the buyrate at 4%, which tells us that if given a fair shot at ppv, Crocket could be profitable with a ppv line up. That’s also encouraging for Crockett, since the card wasn’t strong and the show didn’t have the best heat, but those things may be moot now that WWF has a full year’s schedule set up. Big props to the JCP broadcast team for how well they sold the ppv in advance, because ppv and closed-circuit purchases are majority (90%) last minute, as opposed to house show tickets which are typically bought well in advance.
  • Wrestlemania IV is expected to sell out by the time this issue hits you. Yeah, Dave. By 32 years now. Anyway, about 14,000 seats went on sale to the general public on Saturday and all but a few thousand were sold by the end of the day. The highest price was $150. It’s funny to Dave that despite the crowd discrepancy, WWF may make as much off 14,000 tickets for Mania IV as they did selling 90,000 for Mania III (The April 3, 2000 issue is the earliest I can find for when Dave revised his view of the numbers for Wrestlemania 3). Anyway, the Convention Center is home to Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino, and Donald Trump is using Wrestlemania as the centerpiece of a weekend-long event designed to attract vacation families to his casinos, including a Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine concert in the adjacent Convention Center ballroom. So I guess we can put Donald Trump down as the innovator of Wrestlemania weekend. WWF claims Wrestlemania will be available in up to 9 million homes on ppv, and if the show gets a similar buyrate to last year’s then we’re talking around $15 million on ppv, $1 million live, and probably $4-5 million at closed-circuit.
Watch: Dave Meltzer talks about Bresloff telling him 78,000
  • The employment status of the Rock & Roll Express, Michael Hayes, and Steve Williams with JCP has significantly cleared up. The Rock & Roll Express were fired at the Bunkhouse Finals. On January 23, they were asked to do a clean job to Warlord and Ivan Koloff in 12 minutes. Koloff’s been a low card guy recently, and they have been main guys for years, so instead they did the job in 12 seconds (Ricky Morton laid down and let Warlord pin him). Then they flew to New York for the finals, and Dusty learned what happened (he was not at the show on the 23rd) and fired them on the spot. They could be heading anywhere, though WWF is doubtful due to their size. Michael Hayes was fired last week following an incident. He was teaming with Jimmy Garvin and feuding with Ric Flair on the most recent tour; those spots have been taken by Ron Garvin and Sting, the latter of whom is having an accelerated push as a result. Hayes is expected back at World Class, though he did send a resume to WWF. As for Steve Williams, he stayed an extra week in Japan and missed the Stampede. He’s in a contract dispute with Crockett over whether the money he makes in Japan counts against his guaranteed minimum pay from Crockett (Crockett says yes, Williams says no, you’re not paying it so it doesn’t count toward the minimum you are paying him - corporations are not your friends). Williams has disconnected his phone and is out of communication.
  • Cable ratings for wrestling in the fourth quarter of 1987 dropped from the the third quarter. The World Championship Wrestling show dropped from second to eighth overall, and WWF’s All-American Wrestling surpassed it at seventh. Prime Time Wrestling, formerly ranked third, fell to tenth, while the Sunday WTBS show dropped from tenth to twentieth. AWA on ESPN dropped out of the top 20 (it was number 19 in the third quarter). Some of the drop probably comes from the change in how ratings are gathered (enter the Nielsen box, or “people-meter” as it’s known at this point). There’s controversy about this whole way of gathering ratings, as detractors believe that the boxes ensure shows that appeal to women will receive higher ratings than they would get otherwise. Regardless, wrestling shows across the board dropped about 10% in the ratings in the fourth quarter.
  • New Japan’s “Martial Arts Olympic” event in the Tokyo Dome has some hoping it will surpass Wrestlemania 3 for biggest live gate ever. They’ve sold tickets at as much as $220 for ringside and sold out those events, so there’s a chance they could if they price right and sell out. Dave’s been told that Inoki vs. Koji Kitao has the potential to double the gate of Inoki’s matches with Leon Spinks and Masa Saito (each over $700,000). If they can get Taue, that’s probably the best opponent they can get for Inoki to ensure a big draw. I think last week he may have written All Japan, but he's very clear this is an Inoki idea this week.
  • Speaking of Inoki, New Japan recently did a tour in Italy. The big show was January 24 in Rome and drew 8,000 fans. New Japan actually airs on tv in Italy, and Inoki was the big draw, and he pinned Badnews Allen in the main event. Shane Douglas won a battle royal on the show too. These are the first “western-style” pro wrestling matches in Italy since WWF did a show in Milan back in October.
  • Jake Roberts was on Ellery Queen mystery magazine’s cover this month, and Muscular Development did a cover story on Jesse Ventura. The Ventura article is excellent, but mostly about his life and training regimen, and not to do with wrestling.
Jake Roberts on the cover of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine
  • Genichiro Tenryu won all the major awards in Japan. Tokyo Sports named in MVP of wrestling, and Gong Magazine and Weekly Pro Wrestling gave him the equivalent. He beat Riki Choshu in Gong’s annual popularity poll as the most popular Japanese wrestler (Maeda came in second, so pressure there for New Japan to bring him back). Chigusa Nagayo placed 9th, the first time a woman has cracked the top ten of Gong’s poll.
  • Dave went to the WWF show at the Cow Palace on January 30. It’s his first live show since Japan, and the show drew pretty well, but not as well as you’d expect from a show with a battle royal in the area. The big news of the show were four no-shows: the British Bulldogs (Dave’s heard one of them collapsed at the airport and the other went to the hospital with him), Billy Jack Haynes (his health’s really bad and he’s missed a lot of bookings lately and folks are speculating his career is done), and Bam Bam Bigelow (scheduled to face Ted DiBiase, but he had knee surgery so no clue when he’ll be back). Due to the no-shows, the athletic commission ordered WWF to offer refunds to anyone who wanted them before the end of the second match. He runs down the card: Ron Bass pinned JYD, Ultimate Warrior pinned Harley Race. Warrior’s over big, but still sucks. Ted DiBiase beat George Steele by DQ and Dave alludes to last week’s decision to no longer call matches “abortions” and says “The only word to describe this match is one that has been banned from my vocabulary.” Don Muraco pinned Butch Reed in an okay match. The Jumping Bomb Angels beat the Glamour Girls to retain their tag titles in the only good match on the card (Dave gives it three stars). Noriyo Tateno pinned one of the Girls, Dave doesn’t identify her, saying “you know how it is with those people, they all look alike to me,” which is a pretty solid skewering of people who say that about the Angels and other Asian wrestlers, imo. Ted DiBiase won the bunkhouse battle royal to moderate heat. Hercules pinned Hillbilly Jim. Jim Duggan and Ken Patera beat Demolition and Mr. Fuji by pinning Fuji. Jake Roberts and One Man Gang went to a double countout.
  • By the way, the California state assembly voted 60-7 to reclassify pro wrestling as entertainment and not a sport. So that means once the bill passes the state senate, athletic commissions will have no power over pro wrestling in California, and wrestlers will not need wrestling licenses to work in the state (which was already a joke of a requirement - Dave got a print-out once of all 60 wrestlers licensed in California and major guys like Hogan and Steamboat weren’t on the list).
  • The lineup for AWA’s February 4 show, the last at the Minneapolis Auditorium before it’s demolished, has been announced. Curt Hennig defends the AWA Title against Greg Gagne in a cage match. The Midnight Rockers defend the tag titles against a mystery team (the latest announcement was Nick Kiniski and Kevin Kelly, but Kiniski was let go this week and they’re building to a face turn for Kelly). The rest of the card has Dick the Bruiser vs. Adnan al-Kaissey, Billy Robinson vs. Tom Zenk (particularly interesting since Robinson is in for a one-off but has a reputation as a shooter, as well as competing against Verne as a promoter sometimes, so there’s a chance he may go into business for himself), Wahoo McDaniel and Baron Von Raschke vs. The Nasty Boys, and Billy Jack Strong vs. Soldat Ustinov.
  • Adrian Adonis broke his ankle at the AWA tv tapings in Minot, North Dakota.He was getting whipped into the turnbuckle and stepped into a hole in the ring. He won’t be back for at least two months. Adonis has about 4 months left before he dies.
  • AWA released a song called “Superstars of the AWA.” Jerry Lawler and Jeff Jarrett were in it due to the increased swapping of talent between Memphis and AWA. I could not find the song.
  • Something Dave forgot to mention about the WWF battle royal in San Francisco. Technically there were 19 guys, but only 18 actually worked the match. George Steele came out about a minute late, walked around the ring for a few minutes without getting inside, and then just walked to the back with JYD when JYD was eliminated (JYD was the second out of the match). Dave guesses at George’s age he didn’t want to take the bump or something. Dave recalls a story he heard about an unnamed WWF “neanderthal character” who stalled outside the ring for a complete match, and when one fan yelled to “Get in the ring, you lazy bum” he retorted (despite his character not being able to speak English): “What do you think this is, the NWA?”
  • WWF Superstars tapings were held on January 26 in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Barry Horowitz and Steve Lombardi beat Lanny Poffo and Scott Casey, which set up the main event for the second hour of the taping where the Killer Bees beat Horowitz and Lombardi. Rick Rude and Ricky Steamboat had a match that ended in a big brawl that got Hercules, Harley Race, Jim Duggan, and Ultimate Warrior involved. The main event of the live show was not taped for tv, but had Hogan and Bigelow going over Andre and DiBiase (Hogan pinned DiBiase). Andre’s contribution to the match was one minute (of nine total for the match) in the ring, and a body slam to Hogan before almost collapsing. Commentary for this taping was not done live, but rather will be done in post-production due to the fact that they’re waiting for The Main Event first, since these will all air after that sets up the angles.
  • Dave hears that the decision on what to do with Hogan/Andre at The Main Event will be decided this week once his filming schedule is determined. If he’s available for weekends, he’ll stay champion through the summer. If not, then a title change will happen and DiBiase is the likely beneficiary.
  • [Stampede] Badnews Allen and Jason the Terrible were fined $200 and $300, respectively, by Calgary City Hall. This is in relation to their brawl in the audience on December 18 that led to a woman in the audience suffering a concussion.
  • Oregon will be holding a special show on February 16 as a Frank Bonema Memorial show. Bonema was the tv announcer from Portland who passed away in 1982 or 1983. They haven’t announced any matches yet, but Curt Hennig is supposed to defend the AWA Title against their Northwest Title holder at the time, and there are plans for a tag title match, a strap match, and a cage match.
  • The February 12 card will be the last card by Continental in Knoxville before Ron Fuller’s new promotion takes over the area from them. The situation with Alabama’s territory continues to confuse me.
  • Nobuhiko Takada beat Owen Hart on January 13 in one of the highlights of New Japan’s jr. heavyweight tournament. As of January 26, here’s the status of the tournament: Koshinaka leads with 34 points (7-1 record), Takada has 31 points (6-1-1 record), Hart at 29 points (6-2 record), Hase also has 29 points. Yamazaki has 24 points (5-2 record), and Yamada is 4-2-1 with 21 points. Kobayashi has 24 (5-1), Saito at 19 (4-4), and everyone else is negligible at the moment. The finals will be on February 7.
  • All Japan is pushing a big show for March 9 featuring Hansen vs. Tenryu. That will be a double title match, as Tenryu puts up the United National Title against Hansen’s PWF Title (Dave expects a double countout. Other matches will include Jumbo Tsuruta vs. Tiger Mask II, Baba and Wajima vs. Kimura and Tsurumi, and others.
  • Giant Baba’s been negotiating with the Funks and David Manning about getting All Japan on tv in the U.S. All part of his angling to help the promotions outside the NWA and WWF against the juggernauts.
  • AJW is building a big match for February 25, Dump Matsumoto’s retirement show. Dump and Yukari Omori (also retiring that night) will face the Crush Gals in a tag match. Also on the card will be a battle royal and Yumiko Hotta/Mitsuko Nishiwaki vs. Bull Nakano/Condor Saito for the vacant tag team titles.
  • AJW’s annual rookie auditions took place on January 17 in Tokyo. 1500 girls showed up, and seven were picked based on their performance in various athletic and endurance drills. Dave says this is one of the main reasons it’s ridiculous to attempt to compare joshi wrestling to any American promotion. Only the top half a percent in terms of athletic ability are chosen for training in the first place, and then “they train them like spartans from the age of 15-17 and by the time they are around 22, if they’ve even survived, they are better workers than virtually all the men.” And with the retirement age of 26, nobody stays on so long they feel stale. Then again, that level of training sounds kind of easy to become mega abusive from a 2020 standpoint.
  • Lots of rumor that NWA’s recent firings aren’t due to discipline issues but due to the company having financial issues. That’s the story those being fired have given. Michael Hayes in particular claims that he and Crockett agreed to a two year deal for $150k per year, but Crockett never signed it and when he pressured Crockett to sign (he wasn’t making money with the contract unsigned), and so he got fired for missing the January 23 show in Cincinnati. Even as Crockett’s financial issues become more and more apparent, they do seem to be recovering at the gate a little.
  • Unlike WWF, NWA’s weightlifting competition used legit weights. All four guys did 460 pound bench presses easy, then Paul Ellering called to move the bar to 600. Animal failed first, and they threw chalk in his eyes and he bled and was “taken to the hospital” and the whole thing came across well.
  • The road to Barry Windham joining the Horsemen (not that Dave suspects anything yet) continues as he and Luger are being pushed as a tag team. Meanwhile, Flair and Sting are set to feud.
  • Dave once again clarifies about Hawk’s line (because apparently he’s still saying it). It’s Neo Maxi Zoom Dweebies, not Neo Nazi Zoom Dweebies.
  • Crockett referee Jeff Goldberg writes in to correct the record on something. In the January 18 issue, a reader wrote in about the December 26 show in Philadelphia and said it looked like the referee screwed up the finish. Goldberg says he acted as instructed, and Flair would not have congratulated him later on if he had screwed up. He also says readers often blame referees for screwing up finishes, but that’s usually the wrestlers who screw up (or the finish is in fact supposed to look screwed up). Referees can be green just like wrestlers, but he’s proud not to be one of them.
  • Another reader tells us that his cable company had Bunkhouse Stampede, but Crockett did a LOLNWA. Crockett announced that Sammons cable would have the show on January 23 (day before the ppv). Except they didn’t air the announcement until 2 pm that day, had given no announcement ahead of that time, and Sammons closed their company office for the weekend at noon on the 23rd.
  • The longest letter this week is all about how Bret Hart deserves a bigger push. Brief version: Vince is making a big mistake by not pushing Bret as a singles star. Even the casual fans buy into him. He’s got promo ability, the ability to make a bad wrestler look good (very important in WWF), and he’d make a great opponent for Randy Savage after an Intercontinental Title change. Give it a few years, Jeff. You’ll get your wish and then some.
  • Crockett’s apparently going to keep two offices open. The Dallas office will be for tv production, and the Charlotte office will remain as the base for talent.
  • Mike Rotunda won the NWA TV Title from Nikita Koloff on January 26, then gave the Florida Title to Rick Steiner. Interestingly, Dusty did a promo referencing the Hogan/Andre/DiBiase title situation and said that in the NWA you can’t buy a title. Well, Dave points out, DiBiase offered $1 million to Hogan for the title, so that seems to be the going rate for the WWF championship for a year. Meanwhile, Rick Steiner got the Florida Title for free, which pretty accurately reflects the worth of that title.
  • World Class drew a crowd of 80 in Houston on January 26. No, you didn’t read that number wrong.
THURSDAY: Hogan drops the WWF Title (really the only big story next week)
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Joseph Lee's Letter to Family and Friends - 2014

Joseph Lee's Letter to Family and Friends - 2014

Joseph Lee
August 27, 2014
I am burdened with glorious purpose. - Loki

Introduction

This is the third straight year that I have written an open letter to my friends and family, and each year, this letter serves the same purpose: to defend the way I live my life and to inspire others to take on a life filled with meaning and purpose. Readers of my past letters may have already grown weary of my preaching, or this letter may be the last straw that breaks the camel’s back. You may think that I am not in any position to suggest that my way of life is any better than yours. You might renounce our friendship altogether, or you may simply politely ignore my ramblings. I welcome my friends and family to make their own choice whether to read my letter or not, but I promise not to tone down my hubris. As Kanye West would say, I am the voice of my generation.
Of course, some of this letter is simply intended for entertainment. In particular, I feel I am especially good at telling stories. Last year, I recounted a story about a basketball game I played in middle school. These stories may be obscure references to events in my past, but I hope they help contribute to the mythos surrounding my origin.
Lastly, some portion of this letter, if not the letter in its entirety, will be devoted to flirting with girls. I apologize in advance in any case where these flirtations are unwelcomed.
Figure 1. Reported Holdings Since 2013
Date Portfolio
December 31, 2012 $97,432.75
March 31, 2013 $110,534.77
June 30, 2013 $124,125.55
October 1, 2013 $147,418.90
December 31, 2013 $177,818.90
March 31, 2014 $184,862.98
June 30, 2014 $214,989.08

Glorious Purpose

Every year I write an open letter to the world, and every year I find that there are more people ready to take up arms against the ideology that I profess. People write to me to explain the flaws in my arguments, and I can tell you, with all honesty, that there is nothing that I enjoy more to read than these criticisms. In addition to those who openly share their disapproval with the way I live my life, I am also aware of everyone else who reads my letters and ignores every piece of sensible advice I offer.
“Thus the old gentleman ended his harangue. The people heard it, and approved the doctrine, and immediately practiced the contrary, just as if it had been a common sermon.” - Benjamin Franklin, "The Way to Wealth"
Whether the reader rejects my ideas explicitly by writing a rebuttal or implicitly through indifference, he or she openly agrees to the following. Each year I will report how fulfilling and meaningful my life has become, and my critics will be forced to measure their happiness in life against mine. The reader may feel confident with this wager. I enjoy the confidence my critics possess. To my critics: I am glad that you are willing to test your ideals against mine. I always wish my enemies well. (See the kind words I had to say about Tom Langan in my letter last year.) I wish you all the happiness in the world, and I hope you will win this bet. I have great fear, however, that you will not.

What's Sauce for the Goose Is Sauce for the Gander

I guess it is only fair that everyone I know feels comfortable telling me the biggest flaw he or she sees in my life. I am told, and always worded the exact same way, “You work too much.” But however annoyed I may be from this usual refrain, I always smile back politely, as if to say, “Hey, go fuck yourself.”
Last year I boasted about how I had not missed a single day of teaching in over a year, despite losing vacation days in the process. This year I am able to continue that boast as I again missed zero classes and lost two more paid vacation days. While I may be saving the tax payer a few dollars every year, I do have some sense that there are probably other very dedicated educators who also eschew missing any day of instruction even if it means less vacation. Therefore, I regard my next boast with even more admiration for my endeavors. I work every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night at a minimum wage job, and I have not requested a night off in over a year. While you may find a teacher who has not taken a day off of work in over a year, find me someone with a quarter million dollars who has not taken a night off from his or her minimum wage job. I am sure there are hard-working minimum wage workers who never take a night off in order to barely feed their families. I also imagine there are individuals who are well-off and still enjoy a part-time job. But I find it hard to believe there is anyone else with my level of economic security who works his or her minimum wage job with as much style as I do without respite.
But back to the critique at hand: let me dissuade any of this silly idea that I spend too much of my time being a productive member of society.
“I speak of that nurse and mistress of all the vices known in English as idleness, that gate to sin and hell – we must avoid it at all costs and instead cultivate a busy and useful life. We ought to concentrate on work, rather than pleasure, or else the devil may take us unawares.” - Chaucer, "The Second Nun's Prologue"
While working so much and spending so little has produced the respectable wealth shown in Figure 1, perhaps the greater consequence has been the abundance of moral character I have acquired. When I work on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, I am not only paid a federally-mandated minimum wage: I also earn an amount of self-respect and purpose in life that one does not earn sitting on his or her couch watching football or drinking beer at a bar with friends. I do not mention these activities to highlight their moral depravity (I have already done that in my previous letters), but instead to simply contrast how I choose to spend my free time with how my critics might suggest I spend it. I remain highly convinced that spending my time working is the moral way to live my life.

Family, Duty, Honor

I think some of my critics try to justify their sinful lives by somehow suggesting that the time they spend with their families is more valuable than the time I spend pursuing my limitless ambition. My critics think maybe that instead of working every weekend, I should be painting my toenails with my sisters and giggling about cute boys we met during the week. I am sure my family enjoys my company, but my family also understands what I provide for them in place of my charming personality is far greater.
Imagine, for example, that you went to your family and told them you would spend as much time with them as they wanted, but they would have to pay you $7.25 per hour for the privilege. Your family would find that condition offensive, but it is exactly what my critics are suggesting for me. The money I make working on the weekends does not go towards a fancy new car or a big screen television. (Yes, I will endure yet another year of Josh complaining about my television.) Every penny I make from my part-time job goes directly into the pockets of my younger sisters. Those who tell me I should be spending my weekends with my family are really trying to steal this money straight from my sisters’ pockets.
People who argue that my younger sisters would prefer to spend time with me rather than earn this steady income are simply divorcing themselves from any sense of rationality. The only reason your siblings do not suggest you get a part-time job to support them is because they know you would rather pursue your own sinful life. My sisters know, on the other hand, that I have no wish to lead a sinful life – that my happiness comes from the moral and righteous life that I live and the limitless ambitions that I pursue.
Of course there are more people in my family than just my two younger sisters. However, do not think that anyone else in my family wants any less for my younger sisters than I do. My mother, my father, my older siblings – they want all the same things that I want for my younger sisters. My family – every single member – would gladly sacrifice spending some time with me so that my younger sisters receive all the things you deny your sisters.

The Flower and Fruit of a Man

Everyone knows I love my family, but that does not mean they can’t be infuriatingly obstinate when it comes time for my birthday or Christmas. My mother is probably the worst offender when it comes to this offense, but she is definitely not alone. My family knows I hate gifts, but yet they get them for me anyways. Christmas after Christmas, I would politely unwrap all of my gifts, and then after the traditional ceremony was over, I would neatly pile all of my gifts on my parents dresser and inform them they should return all of these presents. (In fact one Christmas, I believe Tom scored a Nintendo Wii out of this Lee family tradition.)
Now I do not just tell this story simply to reminisce about past Christmas holidays: I tell this story to introduce an even greater annoyance my family now perpetrates. Instead of buying me gifts, my family now resorts to cards explaining their feelings for me. And to be quite honest, I’d almost prefer some shirt that I would never wear.
“What do I want? A little bloody gratitude would be a start.” - Tyrion Lannister
“Jugglers and singers require applause. You are a Lannister.” - Tywin Lannister
Not just to my family, but to everyone: please do not get me a card that explains the greatness of my character. It is the silliest card that I can imagine. I already know exactly how great you think my character is, or I know that you are a bad judge of character. Do not get me a card that says what a wonderful brother or son I am. Other moms, dads, brothers, sisters – they get these cards for their family members, too. If you buy me a card that says how special I am, then I will know that I am not. I am sure there are plenty of amazing brothers out there that deserve praise, but do not mention them along with me.
Do not get me a card that explains how grateful you are of some contribution I have made in your life. This card infuriates me on multiple levels. First, it means you think as little of me as a juggler or singer. Second, and maybe more importantly, while you are writing that you are grateful for this or that, you will certainly miss the only contribution I care to make in your life.
“I want the flower and fruit of a man; that some fragrance be wafted over from him to me, and some ripeness flavor our intercourse. His goodness must not be a partial or transitory act, but a constant superfluity, which costs him nothing and of which he is unconscious. This is a charity that hides a multitude of sins.” - Henry David Thoreau, Walden
If you are thanking me for this or that, it means my aroma has not overpowered you the way I desire. The point of my life is to have my fragrance waft over you – to inspire greatness that you thought before was unachievable.
You want to acknowledge that I have made a meaningful impact in your life? Pursue something greater than before. Do not buy me a gift. Do not write me a card. Show me that you have been inspired. Buy a share of Coca-Cola, or any other Dow component stock. Read a piece of literature, and explore the ideas of Emerson or Thoreau. Ask a girl out who is ten times prettier than any girl you think you should be dating. Do something that I would have done – that I would do. Inspire me in return. Why should I not enjoy your fragrance as well?

Man Thinking

“Man is thus metamorphosed into a thing, into many things. The planter, who is Man sent out into the field to gather food, is seldom cheered by any idea of the true dignity of his ministry. He sees his bushel and his cart, and nothing beyond, and sinks into the farmer, instead of Man on the farm. The tradesman scarcely ever gives an ideal worth to his work, but is ridden by the routine of his craft, and the soul is subject to dollars. The priest becomes a form; the attorney, a statute-book; the mechanic, a machine; the sailor, a rope of a ship. In this distribution of functions, the scholar is the delegated intellect. In the right state, he is, Man Thinking.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson, "The American Scholar"
People who do not read my annual letters probably understand almost nothing about real mathematics. (Before I go any further, I should probably mention that this is not the portion of the letter than introduces some mathematics. That portion will come later. I insert this preface to make sure readers do not immediately skip this section. Although, skipping my section on mathematics is surely a crime that the gods will judge harshly – the old and the new.) I point this out to make my next comment more understandable: my talents as a mathematician are really average at best. Again, do not confuse this statement with some newfound sense of humility. In general, high school math teachers have degrees in education and not mathematics, so it would be almost impossible to consider these people mathematicians. Even people with master’s degrees in mathematics might know little real mathematics. I am quite convinced if you compared my knowledge of mathematics to this cohort, that mine would contrast quite favor- ably. However, it is also fair to say that I am very many years of studying away from being at any doctoral level of knowledge in mathematics.
While my talents at mathematics may be modest, the benefits of even a small understanding of mathematics are immense. I have friends with doctoral level degrees in other fields, and they use their knowledge in amazingly meaningful ways. They use their knowledge to make children better when they are sick. They use their knowledge to protect women’s rights and guide people through the complex legal system – they do great things. Compared to mathematics, however, all their knowledge seems superficial.
I believe I mentioned that I work at a minimum wage job. Imagine the customers who purchase their movie tickets from me. Most people go through their entire life and they never meet a mathematician. Customers at Village Pointe Cinema, however, cannot see a movie on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday night without first meeting one. Imagine how my co-workers might feel. Unlike our customers, they know I stylize myself as the greatest mathematician they will ever meet. Here is the question my readers should ask themselves: would my co-workers rather work with someone with an M.D., a J.D., or an M.A. in mathematics? The former two are doctoral level degrees, but they do not seek to unravel the secrets of the universe. The former two are practical degrees, but the latter is the study of art, of beauty, of something greater.
The entire discussion of mathematics is intended to shed some light on my current studies. Last winter, I enrolled in an American literature course. This fall, I am taking a British literature course. People always ask me, “When are you going to get your Ph.D.?” The criticism is fair – my friends have doctoral degrees, so why don’t I? The short answer is a Ph.D. in mathematics would require significant sacrifices, and the outcome would be largely the same – I would continue to be the only mathematician you know. I do not rule out pursuing a Ph.D.in mathematics, but at the same time, I have opened the possibility to pursuing degrees in other fields – English or philosophy. There is great precedence for mathematicians doing great work in other fields. Lewis Carroll published both literature and mathematics. Abraham Lincoln propelled himself to the White House with his background in mathematics. My ambitions, on the other hand, are limitless.

Dating

“Am I going to have a problem with you, Mr. Bond?” No, don’t worry. You’re not my type. “Smart?" Single. - Casino Royale
In 2012, I bragged about how little I ever associated with girls outside of work. In 2013, I cautioned my female readers that I would be perfectly willing to take them out and let them experience some- thing they would not get with any other guy. But while I openly courted all of my female readers, I can report that so far all of these advances have been rebuffed.
Readers may wonder if this lack of success has in any way dampened my spirits or reduced my willingness to date. I can assure my readers it has not. To my female readers: you may decide this year to alter your life forever and go on a date with me, or you may wait twenty more years: my willingness to show you what you have been missing all this time will not change.
Readers may think I can withstand twenty-nine years of rejection, but that thirty years will cause me to throw in the towel. These readers could not be more wrong. I am like Beyonce – I only get more attractive as I get older. My readers may not be ready to leave their boyfriends or husbands at the moment, but as their partners grow old and tired and loathsome, I only become more passionate and vigorous and full of life. Let my annual letter become a yearly reminder that all of this could be yours.

An Apology to My A.P. English Class

Recently I’ve been reading a lot of literature, and it has me reflecting on my A.P. English class in high school. To some extent, any transgression I committed over a decade ago in high school is probably water under the bridge at this point. At the same time though, through my annual letters, I have given myself an amazing opportunity to express any regret I may possess about my behavior in the past. The reader may wonder, however, if an open letter to the world is the best place to make an apology. It may seem more heart-felt if I were to reach out to each of my classmates individually with a much more personal statement of regret. The problem lies in the fact that I do not remember a single person in my senior year English class. So let me add this statement: if I could remember who one of you were, I would certainly come to you to ask for your forgiveness. Unfortunately, I cannot remember these details in the story. The remainder of this section is devoted instead to the parts of the story that I do remember.
The story begins a year earlier in Ms. Kelly’s junior year honors English class. Let me describe Ms. Kelly: Ms. Kelly was the greatest English teacher at Burke High School. This is in no ways meant as a slight to any of the other English teachers at Omaha Burke. All of the English teachers I had were caring individuals who showed me respect throughout my high school career, and I thank each of them for the education they provided. Ms. Kelly, however, in addition to being a caring individual, had a wit that cut like a knife. Besides learning a great deal about language and literature, I know I would have enjoyed any English class with her.
In addition to my teacher, my classmates are also an important part of this story. My junior year English class was filled with classmates that I enjoyed on many levels. From old friends to new, these classmates were people who would have important roles to fill in the long course of my life. Tom Langan, our class president, I mentioned in detail last year. Blake Conant was a friend who I will explain in a minute. Erin Brummett is a childhood friend who I feel has always been on my side. Rachel Hansen, little did I know at the time, would go on to post the cutest Indian wedding photos on Facebook. (Maybe next year I will write about the good things that happened to people later in their lives who played youth basketball with me.) More than that though, I have been told on good authority that she also secretly supported me in high school. These were my classmates in my junior year English course – a class I enjoyed immensely. Let me relate just one story from that year.
In 1999, the greatest sci-fi action movie in history was released – The Matrix. In 2003, my junior year of high school, its two sequels were released. The first of these sequels, The Matrix: Reloaded, opened on May 15th (during the school year). By my junior year, my older brother had enough confidence in me to pass down the responsibilities to skip school and secure our first place in line for the movie. I waited at the front of the line all day. After school, my brother, Tom, and everyone else joined me at the front of the line for the midnight release of the movie.
Now, every time there is one of these big opening night premieres, the local press will come out to write a story about the big new movie. Of course, the Omaha World Herald reporter wanted to get a quote from me for his story, as I was at the front of the line. He was never going to succeed at this endeavor, though. I had little interest in talking to people in general, and I certainly was not going to talk to this reporter. Tom, however, had no problem filling the reporter in on the details. He told the reporter my name and how long I had been waiting at the front of the line. The story in the paper the next morning did not indicate the contempt the person at the front of the line held for the author of the story. Instead, the story opened, “Joe Lee was first in line at 6 A.M. for the midnight show of The Matrix: Reloaded.”
How does this relate to English class? From time to time, some brown-nosing student would bring in articles from the newspaper that related to something we were discussing in class. Now, Blake was not a brown-nosing student. He did, however, bring Ms. Kelly this World Herald article. I had not seen the newspaper, but in class the next morning, Ms. Kelly announces that Blake had brought in an article from the newspaper. She read the opening sentence and proceeded to good-naturedly inquire about my absence the previous day. This was my English class junior year.
As I have already mentioned, I do not remember as much about my senior year English course. What I do remember, however, is one of my other teachers, Mrs. Grill – you know her – pulling me aside and asking me if we needed to change my schedule so I could be placed in a different English course. It was passed on to her that I did not like my English class so much that she should intervene. It was apparently obvious to my English teacher at the time that I could not stand any of my classmates. Honestly, I doubt I had any grievously bad feelings toward any of these classmates, and that my antisocial behavior was just the normal amount of disdain I possess for people in general. In any case, my schedule was changed, and I was placed in a different class. But looking back at it now, maybe I was even more antisocial than normal to these classmates. Apparently I was. And with that said, I hope anyone in my original A.P. English class will forgive my unfriendly behavior. As I have already said, I certainly did not intend to be more antisocial than I normally am anyways. I hope if any of you find this letter, whoever you are, that you will accept my sincere apologies.

The Fault in The Fault in Our Stars

While writing these letters, I feel I have an obligation to share some mathematics. Readers may think I put this section in my letter simply to show off, but in fact, offering some beautiful mathematics each year is entirely in keeping with the goal of this letter. As I have stated previously, I write this letter to defend the choices I make in life, and one of the biggest choices I made was to pursue an education in mathematics. Of course, my critics will say, “You should have studied to become a neurosurgeon or something like that,” but I will respond: is a neurosurgeon going to share beautiful mathematics with you like me?
One of my YouTube reviews (visit youtube.com/limitlessjoelee to see all of my YouTube videos) this year was on the young adult romance movie The Fault in Our Stars starring Shailene Woodley. What I found most compelling, and most troublesome, about this movie was its attempt to tackle the cardinality of infinite sets. Cardinality is just a fancy math word to describe size. Shailene Woodley’s character discusses the cardinality of infinite sets as the centerpiece of one of her big monologues in the movie, and here’s basically what she said:
There are different infinities. The set of numbers between zero and one is infinite. Think 0.1, 0.01, 0.001, and so on. However, there is a bigger set of infinite numbers between zero and two. Isn’t that cool?
Different infinities... sounds interesting. Unfortunately, it turns out someone showed Shailene Woodley she was wrong about this idea about 400 years ago. His name was Galileo. Here’s Galileo’s argument:
There are exactly the same number of numbers between zero and one as there are between zero and two. Don’t believe me, Shailene? Well, you take all the numbers between zero and two, and I will take all the numbers between zero and one. Take every single one of your numbers (don’t leave any out!) and divide each of them by two. What do you get? All of my numbers. And there are not any duplicates. Each of your numbers, divided by two, is a unique number that is one of mine. Thus, we have the same number of numbers.
So far this dialogue is interesting, but the true beauty comes from the revolutionary mathematician Georg Cantor. He argued that yes, some infinities are the same size, like the ones Shailene cited, but there are infinities that are bigger than others. Here is Cantor’s argument:
Consider the following two infinite sets: the set of natural numbers {1, 2, 3, 4, . . .} and the set of real numbers between zero and one. There more real numbers between zero and one than natural numbers, and here’s how you can show it. Imagine we try to do what Galileo suggested and match each of your numbers - you get the natural numbers, {1, 2, 3, 4, . . .} - with each of my numbers. Here’s what we would have:
1 → 0.x_{1,1} x_{1,2} x_{1,3} x_{1,4} ...
2 → 0.x_{2,1} x_{2,2} x_{2,3} x_{2,4} ...
3 → 0.x_{3,1} x_{3,2} x_{3,3} x_{3,4} ...
4 → 0.x_{4,1} x_{4,2} x_{4,3} x_{4,4} ...
where each x_{i,j} is a digit in a decimal expansion. If it is possible to make a list as such, it should have every possible number between zero and one. I know for a fact though it does not, because I can think of a number that is not on this list. My number is
0.y_{1} y_{2} y_{3} y_{4} ...
where each y_{i} is determined the following way:
y_{i} = 4 if x_{i,j} = 7 and y_{i} = 7 otherwise.
Notice my number is not on the list. My number is not the same as
1 → 0.x_{1,1} x_{1,2} x_{1,3} x_{1,4} ...
since if its first digit is a 7, then my first digit is a 4. And if its first digit is not a 7, well then my first digit is a 7. It’s also not the same as
2 → 0.x_{2,1} x_{2,2} x_{2,3} x_{2,4} ...
since if its second digit is a 7, then my second digit is a 4. If its second digit is not a 7, then my second digit is a 7. You can see now that my number is different from every number on the list, (if you cannot see it, re-read this section until it make sense - there will be a quiz) so it proves I have more numbers than you. And thus, my set of infinite numbers has more numbers than your set of infinite numbers.
As I said in my review, it was nice that they mentioned this idea in the movie, but they could have done it right. Just imagine if all the theater-goers were able to appreciate the mathematics I just offered you.

Proposition Bet

Lastly, I need return to a subject I bragged about two years ago – the fact that I would never move out of my mother’s house. My mother sold her house and moved halfway across the state. As such, I moved into my first apartment on August 1st. So, for everyone who had prop bets on this subject: if you had bet I would still be living with my mother when we had our ten year high school reunion, congratulations. If, however, you wagered that I would still be living with my mother when I turned 29, I am afraid you lost that bet.
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Women and Poker - the Exploitation of the Female Form

Some of the main hubs of poker are also the most sexualized cities in the United States, name New Orleans and then later Las Vegas. These cities are absolutely oozing with sex, and although this paper is not trying to make a moralistic argument decrying these wild cities' lifestyles, much of these images have stuck to the game of poker itself. Perhaps this phenomenon would not be so bad if it played out evenly between the two sexes, but all one sees is the portrayal of partially disrobed women advertising for poker sites. One only needs to log onto the internet and search for "Women and Poker" to have a dozen women in bikinis immediately pop up on the screen.
In fact, yours truly actually did run a search specifically for "Women and Poker", and here are some of the surprising results. In no particular order we present 10 of the most tasteful poker sites on the web:
-Pokerium Online Poker Room and Casino: The front page of this website is a model of good taste and restraint. Many of the searches yielded interesting results, but this website was head and shoulders ahead. Upon opening the home page one finds an illustration of a scantily clad brown-haired vixen with a flower in her hair(no real women were harmed during the production of this design). The interesting part of this drawing is that she is placed inside of a huge Ace of Clubs. In the middle of the card, where the woman is located, lies a very large club, and the stem of said club just happens to terminate in the center of the woman's crotch. Although there is a possibility that this not-so-subtle innuendo was unintentional, we would not bet on it.
-Next on our list is the deliciously tasteful advertisement on hollywoodpoker.com for their "Babes & Bounties" tournament. To begin with, the title itself should be enough to ruffle the feathers of most women poker players. Then, the image used on the page is of a woman in a bikini top with money in the background behind her. And finally, for those players who aren't sold by the picture in the middle, the site claims that "12 of the sexiest poker hostesses in the game" will be present at the table. It's a good thing too, because most serious poker players refuse to play in tournaments with any less than 8 sexy poker hostesses. Finally, jus tto make sure that one can notice all the different features on the side, there is a picture of a woman on the left-hand side of the screen dressed in her rather unsupportive underwear lying down in front of a laptop with poker chips lying around her body. She is happily wearing a pair of flattering white high heeled shoes so that she can model at any moment during her poker game. A truly classy website.
-Not to be outdone, Jungle Poker has its own female spokeswoman: none other than the lovely Cheynelle Fraser, a bartendemodel who is now the official face of Jungle Poker. Why a poker site would need a sizzling hot model as a spokeswoman is a grand mystery. We suspect it is because the photos of Cheynelle - which include several excellent cleavage shots - surely have everything to do with poker and nothing with selling sexuality. Although the site may be using the good looks of beautiful Cheynelle to help promote their site, they are not just about T & A on their site: on the front page of the site they have an advertisement for their heads up Sit & Go tournaments, featuring two headshots of a man and a woman, both fully dressed, challenging each other to a card game. Hurray for equality!
-Europeans are no exception when it comes to using alluring images of the female form to help them sell their products. In a recent article published on poker.gamble.co.uk, the author writes about the upcoming Great British Poker Tour, and the centerpiece image of this article is a nude woman relaxing in a bathtub full of poker chips. It's a good thing that they posted this picture, because nothing says Great British Poker Tour better than a woman bathing nude in poker chips.
-The most morbid result found during the search came from best-poker-rakeback.net on their rakeback advertisement, which features a frightening illustration of zombie woman in a corset, fishnet stockings, heels, and a short skirt using a rake to gather up some playing cards that must have fallen off a tree. Although the idea of having somebody literally raking poker cards is cute, we're not sure about the need for a sexy undead woman.
-Gambling blog Oddjack paid homage to the women of poker in an article titled "Top 10 Sexiest Women of Poker". This enlightening four part series takes the readers through their list of what they view as the sexiest women in the poker world. Just to give a small taste of their depictions of these women, we will go over the first three women they talk about. Each woman has a picture with a caption beneath it. At number ten on their list is Courtney Friel, a television hostess for the world poker tour. The picture they have of her is in a lacy tank top: fair enough. She's obviously OK with the picture considering she modeled for it. Underneath the picure is a caption that says "Stop teasing us Courtney, tear those laces off!"
The next featured profile is that of Evelyn Ng. Underneath her picture they put a quote that says, "Evelyn sure is one sweet ride..." Sadly, they did not even try to be creative with this comment, the only possible connotation for this remark is a sexual one. They also remarked in her profile that she won the WPT Ladies Night event and that, "Yup, she kicked ass. Asses that belong to Annie Duke and Kathy Liebert. Asses I don't want to see anytime soon. No matter how much they pay me to." This hilarious joke about the physical assets of two of poker's greatest female players was insulting to say the least.
submitted by Ozone21337 to qsarangkiucominfo [link] [comments]

Spellslinger Fingerbangs Scott

Slightly early happy fourth of July everyone! And belated Happy Canada day to our northern neighbors! And just happy days all around to everyone else! This is a chapter a loooong time coming. But I just kept kicking the idea around in my head, unhappy with it until things felt like they fell into place.
Without further ado the long awaited next chapter of Spellslinger!
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“So… what exactly are we doing again?” Fenrina asked as she helped Steve fit some parts onto a large contraption he was assembling.
“We’re going to stop Scott, and fight his army of skeletons.” Steve reminded her as he slapped some pieces together and wrapped plenty of his special flexible fabric of aquatic bird binding around the parts to hold them in place.
“No, I mean yeah. I get that. But… like how? And what’s this for?” Fenrina asked as she lifted a giant wheel up so Steve could bolt it to the side of his project.
“This is what will help us break through his army. I call it… Spellslinger’s automatic fossil fuel external combusting self propelled mobile engine! Or the SAFFECSPME for short.” Steve grinned and proudly posed before his machine.
“Steve you are just… terrible at naming things.” Sherry sighed with a slow shake of her head as she looked up at his rather haphazardly slapped together invention.
“I am not! You take that back female with whom I have relations!” He huffed. “I’m so tired of all these stupid artifacts we find that are just like… The orb of wonder! The circlet of insight! The Staff of penetrat- Actually that one is rather self explanatory… Regardless! When I name something people don’t have to be like oh I wonder what that does. No! They know exactly what it does right from the get go! Hah!” He once more set his hands on his hips and struck a proud pose.
“Why not like… take some of the words and stick them together? Like… auto...mobile. That sorta means the same thing right?” Fenrina suggested with a shrug.
“The automobile?” Steve asked as he gave Fenrina as confused look. “Pfft. What’s that even mean? It’ll never catch on. Unlike SAFFECSPME!”
“Safakspm?” Fenrina tried.
“No. SAFFECSPME.” Steve corrected her.
“Safeskspem?” She tried again.
“We’ll deal with that later.” Steve waved a hand dismissively. “What’s important now is waiting on word from the Archon that she’s finished up the spell we’ve been working on. Then we… well we wait for some of the skeletons to get here. I don’t have any more fossils so we need to smash them up and toss them in there.” He pointed to the large scoop at the front of his vehicle full of large spiked grinders. “Then inside I have a reserve of arcane water to mix with the ground up fossils, which then combusts here, which is why I’ve got the pipe to make sure most of the explosion is external. And then it’ll start moving forward.” He explained with a slow nod.
“How do we… steer it? And… where do we sit?” Sherry asked as she eyed the machine with a very nervous expression.
“Uh… I’ve got a wheel like on a ship, and I’ve made… seats.” Steve gave another vague wave at the machine. The seats he had bolted or strapped into place were more of the just fit wherever style over the actually made with purpose style. “Oh also, since this is super dangerous don’t forget safety first. Goggles everyone.” He went around to hand them each goggles.
“These will help us if it explodes?” Fenrina asked as she strapped them onto her face.
“Oh no. Not at all. They’re just to keep sand out of your eyes when we’re going fast.” He explained.
“Well, I do like to go fast.” Fenrina nodded with her usual levels of confidence and complete lack of concern.
“Can I mention that so far you’ve yet to mention how we’re going to defeat Scott. Or how we’re going to assemble the rest of Fenrina’s people. Or! Or how you’re even going to cast your spell!” Sherry reminded them even as she put on her own goggles.
“The Archon is casting that spell I mentioned. It’ll round up all of the people who’ve become…. Were-huskies and drop them near us. Don’t worry about it. Also I still need a better name than werehusky. As for casting the spell? Once we’ve mashed up that many of Scott’s skeletons I should have lots of power to use.” Steve shrugged. “As usual our best plans just sort of… happen. Without planning.”
“That makes them not plans.” Sherry drly remarked. “What about Scott? You heard the Archon she said he had powerful magicks with a K. Even with all four of us I’m not sure we can breach such old spell barriers.” Sherry then reminded him.
“Yeah but that’s why Steve is going to finger bang him.” Fenrina reminded them with a shrug.
“Ugh…” Steve groaned at that. “Just… stop saying that.”
“You guys won’t say what’s wrong with finger banging people! So until you do I’m just going to finger bang bang all day!” Fenrina wagged her fingers at the others.
“The finger that I’ve sabotaged will strip away his shields and then he’s like a basic skeleton. Uh… that is alive and talks and stuff. We can smash him real easy then. Larry could even deal with it… if he hadn’t forgotten all his spells for fighting undead and replaced them with party tricks.” Steve glared at the dwarf then.
Larry insists it so unfair to shame a cleric for choosing to fight boredom at parties of sexy elves instead of fighting boring unsexy undead.” Both Sherry and Steve rolled their eyes as Larry tried to defend his practice of quick casting more… gimmicky spells. Such as transmute water to wine, and greater mood lighting.
“Regardless we need to hold them from getting past this part of the Hamak desert because if they get down into the casinos around Sinner’s Meadow a whole lot of gamblers, plus all the poor bastards the sunbinders buried with their pharaohs over the centuries, will become zombies. Or… skeletons maybe. Something undead. Although it might be hard to tell the difference compared with their usual behavior…” Steve mused idly as he rubbed his beard. Steve, Sherry, and Larry all looked out across the reddish sands of the desert before them knowing a vast horde of undead should be approaching them quickly from the valley of the dead where Scott and the rest of his Dicks had been buried, and conveniently lost to time until now.
“So, Steve, out of curiosity, what if Scott has some extra warriors buried at different points around the desert as a vanguard with like skeleton chariots and stuff and we start getting attacked before the Archon has her spell ready?” Fenrina asked.
“That sounds like an oddly specific worry Fenrina… but I guess we’d just have to ride around smashing skeletons until she’s ready. Why?” Steve asked and looked over to see the canine looking behind them.
“Because I think that hill is a tomb.” She pointed and the others looked around to see a mass of skeletons rushing up towards them, some on chariots being pulled by skeleton horses as well.
“Oh shit!” Steve hissed out as Sherry and Larry turned to quickly set up to face the oncoming attack. “Get ready and remember the plan!” Steve shouted.
“What plan?!” Sherry hissed back.
“That’s easy!” Fenrina grinned as she got out front with her shield raised. “Stuff the bad skeletons into the mashing bit! Drive around and find Scott! And then-
Spellslinger Fingerbangs-
“Don’t you dare!” Steve interrupted her before she could finish, and began to cast a fireball at the charging chariots. “The plan is-
Spellslinger Slaps a Dick
“They keep splintering into tiny pieces! I can’t even get a decent snack!” Fenrina growled out as another pair of skeletons rushed up at her only for her sword to cleave through both of them as a cloud of dust erupted in their place.
“We’ve got to somehow get them straight into the grinder!” Steve shouted and hurled a vine spear into the spoke of one of the chariots, causing the whole thing to tumble over as the skeletal horses shattered.
“Maybe Sherry’s whip? It doesn’t seem to destroy them as much!” Fenrina called out.
“The problem is when I whip them they just make these moaning sounds!” Sherry called back as she held a contingent of skeletal warriors at bay to the side of the machine.
“So… they’re immune to the whip?” Steve asked with a glance over.
“No, it still works but it’s really creepy and I don’t like it!” Sherry growled back. “And they don’t run from it they just stick around to get whipped more!”
“I’ve got an idea!” Fenrina announced and used her shield to smash apart another skeleton before rushing over to grab Larry. “Fastball special!”
Larry hates this idea!” The dwarf shouted just before she spun and hurled him into the driver of one of the chariots knocking the skeleton out as Larry tumbled into the chariot. The dwarf quickly grabbed the reins then, but it wasn’t easy as he had to keep hopping to see over the horses.
“Into the machine!” Fenrina yelled at him even as she used her shield to shove several of the warriors in front of Steve’s engine. Realizing what she was doing Steve quickly pulled several reagents from his belt and stuffed them into his mouth before vomiting ice all over them to stick them in place.
“Ugh… I hate the flavor.” He muttered as he spit out a final snowball.
“Stop moaning and get back you creepy shits!” Sherry screamed on the other side of the machine as she kept furiously cracking her whip at the possibly masochistic vanguard of skeletons to try and herd them in front of the engine. Just as they were all in position Larry drove the skeletal horses into the grinder at the front of the machine, shoving the herd of warriors in at the same time as the dwarf hurled himself free of the wreckage at the last moment. For a second nothing seemed to happen as the grinders slowly turned, but then they began to pick up speed and the entire machine started to roll forward slowly.
“Hop on!” Steve called out as everyone jumped onto the nearest seat available. Steve tried to slip into the seat behind the steering wheel but to his surprise Fenrina picked him up before he could fully sit down and tossed him onto the front where he grabbed the nearest set to stop from sliding off. “Fenrina! The hell?!”
“All of you cast magic and stuff! What am I gonna do in here? Ask you to drive closer so I can hit them with my sword?” She snorted and pulled a lever to disengage the brakes. Steve was rather impressed at how much more focused she’d been lately. “Besides this way I can make it go as fast as I want!” She grinned wide as he immediately retracted his thought and sighed.
“Well… aim for the main cluster to get more fossils for fuel!” He hollered and pointed at the group still pouring out of the hill tomb. As they began to roll downhill the machine started to pick up speed both from smashing into more of the now fleeing skeletons, and the downhill course. Steve meant to start casting something to help thin the horde but instead he spent most of his time trying to avoid the sword and spears that were flying past him as the warriors got mulched by the grinder. He’d need to adjust his design a bit for the next one.
Thankfully Fenrina didn’t seem to need any help as his machine plowed through much of the vanguard as they tried to leave the tomb and by now it seemed to be fully charged as a gout of flame erupted from the back pipe making the entire thing shudder a moment. There were several more jerks as explosions rocked the SAFFECSPME forward and Steve desperately clutched the sides of his seat to steady himself. “Steve you asshole slow down!” Sherry screamed to the side.
“I’m not driving!” He yelled back.
“Sorry, force of habit! Fenrina!” The demon looked over but the husky was busy letting out a howl and then letting her tongue dangle in the wind as the machine shot out across the desert, rattling and bouncing over the terrain.
While Steve had planned for the goggles to shield his eyes he’d not given as much thought to his mouth and was coughing as his position at the front of the machine made him a magnet for dirt, sand, and bugs. He quickly pulled a cloth from one of his pouches to wrap around his face. When he looked to one side he saw Sherry had cut part of her shirt to do the same. But when he looked to the other side he saw Larry had in face pulled a rather large pair of panties over his face and then pulled his goggles down over it. “What the-”
These are not Larry’s panties. For Larry does not wear panties. Except right now. As a mask.” He replied before Steve could even ask. Though that didn’t really answer much of anything. Steve wanted to ask more but then Fenrina spoke up as she glanced back.
“Hey Steve what if the skeletons saw what sort of machine we made and somehow like banded together into similar machines but made out of bones and stuff and came chasing after us to stop us and were covered in spikes and more skeletons and stuff?” She asked in one long breathless sentence.
“Uh… that’s… not really… possible?” Steve tried to think of what sort of magic could do something like that but wasn’t sure if it could be done. Especially not so quickly.
“Okay, then I guess I’m hallucinating.” Fenrina shrugged and Steve leaned out to the side to see several skeletal vehicles suddenly chasing after them.
“Oh what the fuck!” He gasped out. One of the smaller skeletal vehicles raced up ahead as he saw a skeletal trumpeter on it blaring some ear piercing tune. “That’s impossible! You guys are cheating!” He yelled over at them even as every skelton aboard the undead machine flipped him off.
“Doot doot motherfucker!” One of the more well armored skeletons simply screamed back at him as they started to jump across to board their ride. The trio had to quickly try and fend off the attackers from their already precarious seats.
“How can a skeleton even play trumpet! You don’t have lips!” Steve screamed as the skeletal minstrel jumped across and played trumpet in his face even as he chopped the skeleton’s legs off at the knees sending the upper body tumbling off the side. Thankfully with the speed Fenrina was going across the desert all they really had to do was shove them back off the sides and they’d be smashed to bits from the impact.
Yet the reanimated bones didn’t seem to have any issues with suicidally trying to ram their new bone-mobiles into the DOOM engine. Thankfully Steve had made his SAFFECSPM to be sturdy, though he was quickly making notes about what to add for the next version. Like something to strap him into his seat as the impacts from the skeletal riders would nearly knock him off the front and off the side. “Fenrina ram back!” Steve called out to her, but as she swerved to hit one of the bone-mobiles all the skeletons atop it just jumped over onto their ride. “New plan! Don’t do that!”
“Haha! Death to the fleshy bois! Fuck flesh!” One of the skeletons cried out as he tried to decapitate Steve with an old sickle sword. Though Steve got his own sword up to parry the attack.
“Yeah death to the fleshy bois! And… whatever this furry one is! Fuck the furry!” Another skeleton yelled as he tried to stab Fenrina with a spear, but she just grabbed the spear and used it to fling the skeleton off the engine.
Larry insists you don’t use that term. It doesn’t mean what you think it does!” The dwarf advised even as he smashed apart another skeleton with his hammer as it tried to jump across.
“Why what does it mean?” Fenrina asked with a frown.
“Yeah, fleshy boi! What’s it mean?” The skeleton from earlier asked before Steve quickly conjured a large stone fish to smash him apart.
Larry does not wish to explain right now. Larry simply… knows things that would suggest you don’t use that term.” The dwarf gave the others an odd look and Steve frowned a moment before narrowly ducking to avoid an arrow shot at them from a nearby bone-mobile.
“Larry do we want to know?” He asked and the dwarf just shook his head. “I swear you’re worse than bards sometimes…” Steve muttered even as he began to fast a fireball to lob back at the skeleton archers.
“Yeah well I’m tired of fighting all these boney bois and getting nothing to eat!” Fenrina growled out and as two of the skeletal vehicles pulled up alongside she yanked on the brake, making Steve let out a startled squeal and nearly roll off the front of the engine and into the grinder, but he caught himself on the edge. The two skeletal vehicles though smashed into each other in a mass eruption of bones which Fenrina then drove through, snagging a wayward femur in her mouth. “Mmhgnrnrng… uch etter…”
“Damnit Fenrina! Can you stop thinking about food for two seconds and focus!” Steve yelled and scrambled to pull himself back into his seat.
“‘Ere ‘e goi’ ‘nywa?” She asked as she kept chewing on the femur, causing little sparks to sizzle around her teeth.
“Uh…” Steve looked forward across the desert as he saw a massive lightning bolt from some cliffs ahead and the clouds began to grow impossibly dark. “Yeah my bet is that way.”
“Also ‘at ‘o I ‘o if ‘I ‘ee’ a ‘ig ‘orado ‘ats s’arkly?” She asked, refusing to give up her snack.
“What do you do if you see a big tornado that’s all sparkly? I don’t know… why do you ask?” Steve was watching Fenrina as he pulled himself back into his seat and then saw her point past him. When he looked back he saw an absolutely massive sand tornado crackling with purple lightning. “Oh for fuck’s sake! Stop asking questions like that Fenrina!”
“Hat? It ‘ot’ ‘I ‘ault!” She huffed.
“I swear it somehow is!” Steve hissed. “Get away from it! Towards the cliffs!” He pointed towards the beam in the sky pulling in more and more dark clouds. But as they got closer to the cliff he saw a tide of skeletons riding an entire fleet of bone-mobiles out towards them. “Never mind! Towards the tornado! Towards the tornado!” He screamed as he waved towards the tornado. Fenrina veered off towards the swirling vortex of sand and lightning as Steven feverishly pulled reagents from his pouches and frantically etched runes into the hood.
Even as they approached the massive storm the skeletons were overtaking them. Sherry had summoned her bone wings and was using them to operate a massive flaming bow to smash apart approaching riders with spear sized flaming bolts, and Larry was tossing holy orbs up into the air before using his hammer like a bat to smack them at the oncoming horde. It was still going to be extremely close as the tornado bore down upon them and the tide of skeletons grew ever closer. “Larry!” Steve screamed to be heard over the howling wind. “Bubble us!”
Larry would have to use up a lot of energy to shield us all! Plus Larry does not appreciate the divine protection being called a bubble!” The dwarf protested, taking a momentary break from lobbing the holy bombs at the skeletons.
“Larry so help me you will bubble us all right now or I’ll tell the Archon what you did in the faculty lounge!” Steve screamed back. The dwarf went wide eyed a moment and set his hands on the engine before a golden sphere shimmered around them just as several of the bone-mobiles smashed into them. Thankfully with the bubble up they were instead blasted apart instead, and Fenrina was free to drive them straight into the vortex.
As the sand and lightning swept over them the bubble crackled and broke apart quickly, but Steve already had his hands up in the air and was shouting out virtually every protective weather ward he knew to create a break in the wind for them barrel through as the storm overtook Scott’s army and began to tear them apart. Steve could feel the drain of energy from shielding them as they thankfully burst out of the sand into the eye of the storm.
Yet even as the sky above them was clear and blue they suddenly saw several more vehicles ahead of them. Except they weren’t the bone-mobiles. They seemed to be made of rusty metal, and several were completely covered in spikes, plus their wheels were very small and made of some material Steve didn’t recognize at all. Not to mention instead of angry undead skeletons they seemed to be crewed by humans wearing bits of strange spiker armor that Steve also didn’t recognize. It didn’t seem like metal.
“Wha? Where did these guys come from?” Steve frowned in confusion. Before he could even try and call out to them one of the spiked vehicles saw him and a rider lobbed a spear at them which exploded just as it hit the sand. More of the rides howled out as he saw them grab at their crotches for some reason and wiggle their tongues in the air. “Okay they’re not friendly.” He growled and quickly lobbed a fireball right back, igniting the vehicle as it exploded in a shower of metal spikes that Fenrina had to dodge.
Several of the spiked hostile rides began to veer off towards him but a sleek black vehicle at the front dropped back and slammed into one, making it spin out and flip over a dune as the riders were tossed screaming into the storm as it moved. Forcing many of the others to drop back as they chased after them. “Oi you beautiful cunt!” Steve frowned as the rider of the sleek black machine came up next to him. Unlike the strange spiked armor the others wore this one was in black leather armor that was a little odd, but still something he was more familiar with.
“What!” Steve called back, unsure about the insult.
“Yeah! Thanks cunt! These mad mates been on me since a piss up in woop woop last night. Fuckin’ hoons ‘mirite?” The rider called back.
“What?” Was all Steve could respond with.
“Oi! Is that a Sheila dingo with tits drivin yer claptrap? Now that’s a bloody awesome mutant it is!” The black clad driver continued.
“What!?” Steve echoed from before, entirely confused.
“Right cunt! ‘Moff to the bottle-o! Hoo roo!” The driver called out before driving into the wall of sand ahead of them.
“I am so lost.” Steve muttered before raising his hands to chant out more wards as Fenrina took them back through the vortex of sand and lightning. This time as they neared the end his arms were truly getting tired and when they burst back out into the sun he let out a relieved gasp and sagged back down into his seat. Fenrina was taking them straight towards the cliff the shadows were growing out of but he didn’t see any more skeletons just yet so he used the time to catch his breath.
“Sherry… did that guy sound like a Drow to you?” Steve asked as he glanced back at the demon.
“You know more about them then me.” She replied with a shrug. “Also why were those other guys all wearing assless chaps?”
“Were they?” Steve frowned. “I think I was focused on other things.” He shook his head slowly and grabbed a rejuvenation potion off his belt as Sherry entered a narrow crack in the cliffs towards the shadow light on the far end. “Alright… uh… maybe slow it down a bit.” Steve urged Fenrina as they sped through the rocky walls with very little room on either side.
“Sure thing!” Fenrina called out, apparently done with her femur at some point. However right after that Steve heard a snap and Fenrina reached forward to hand him a stick. “Hey, can you hold onto this for me?” She asked.
Steve took the lever and looked at it in his hands a moment before realizing what it was. “Fenrina! This is the brake lever!”
“Yeah. It broke.” She replied and then took her hands off the wheel to give him a big shrug as her tongue dangled from her mouth.
“Damnit Fenrina.” Steve sighed, but before he could do anything else they exited the small canyon and came into a clearing with a rather steep drop off as the SAFFECSPM was launched off it into a pit below. The members of DOOM cried out and tumbled off the machine as it plummeted. Thankfully Sherry was quick to get her bone wings out and grab Steve while Fenrina grabbed onto Larry as the dwarf frantically cast another bubble around them so they’d bounce off the ground and roll to a stop while Sherry brought Steve down in a mostly controlled descent as they all landed around the wreckage of Steve’s machine.
“My my my… you really are a tenacious shit sucker.” Steve looked around as he heard that voice and saw Scott standing above them upon a rather short pyramid.
“Is this your pyramid Scott? It’s… a little small.” Steve called back.
“It’s not about the size of the pyramid but how you use it!” Scott screamed back. Around them Steve saw more skeletal warriors start to rush forward from around the pyramid.
“We’ve just got done destroying entire legions of your shitty warriors! What’s a few more?” Steve called up to Scott only to see larger skeletons start to rush out of the pyramid itself. Their armor and weapons obviously superior to the lesser skeletons they’d been fighting. “Well, fine! The more the merrier!” He continued even as black lightning struck the ground and ten foot tall half jackal half human mummies began to burst out of the ground. “I uh… I still think… we’ve got this.” He muttered at the end.
“Do you? Do you really?” Scott asked as the ground around them began to rumble. Besides the pyramid the ground began to shift as sand fell away to reveal an absolutely massive snake rising up. Then the ground around them shifted as Steve realized much of the ground around them was just the coiled tail of this gargantuan snake.
“That… that is… that is a very very big snake.” Steve muttered as he watched it rise up, clad in a rather dazzling jeweled headpiece that constituted the complete output of at least one gold mine, and the centerpiece was a ruby the size of Larry.
“Your pathetic struggle ends here fool!” Scott called back at the snake’s massive forked tongue flicked out a moment and its maw started to open.
“You’re such a dick Scott.” Steve huffed.
“Yes. I’m the king of the dicks! No one is more dick than I! Scott!” The skeleton replied with a maniacal cackle as shadow lightning struck behind him to create an inverse flash of light to highlight his malevolence.
“But you still haven’t found your actual dick I see.” Steve waved at the skeleton’s crotch. “You… dickless wonder!”
“No… That miserable bastard of mine Eddy… I don’t know what he did with it! Him and that treacherous vizier Sigmund. They had the creepiest ideas about mothers.” The skeleton shuddered for a moment and then waved a hand. “But enough of this mindless prattle! You die now and shall be nothing more than snake shit soon! Strike my servant!” He called as the snake hissed out and rose up.
“Hold on I got this.” Sherry said to Steve’s surprise and pushed him aside to step closer to the snake. Her own forked tongue flicked out and she began to hiss at the massive snake. “Hiisss. Hiss hiss hiiisss. Hiss hissss hisss hiss?”
The snake stopped then and seemed to wriggle a moment as it… blushed? “HISSSS HISS HISSS HISSSSS HIIIISSISISS.”
“What is this?” Scott demanded to know even as the two started to talk.
“Snake tongue.” Steve replied.
“I didn’t mean what language you insufferable turd!” Scott yelled back. Meanwhile the snake and Sherry kept talking.
“Hisss hiss hiss hisss. Hhissisiss? Hiss hiss.” Sherry said with an exaggerated toss of her hair.
“HISSS HISS HIIISS HISSSISIS. HISS.” The massive snake rolled its eyes and gave Scott a look even as Sherry gave Steve a similar look that made him squirm.
“The judgement I feel is somehow worse than being eaten by that giant snake.” He muttered.
“Stop dithering about whelp! I command you to eat them! Eat them right now! Do your fucking job and obey me!” The opulently decorated skeleton began to jump up and down as he screamed. This just made the big snake give Sherry a knowing look.
HISS. HISSS HISSSS HIIIISS. HIISSISIS.” It said as Sherry then laughed and waved a hand.
“Hiiisss! Hisss hiss hiss.” With that the big snake rose up and started to slither out of the canyon that Fenrina had just drove them down to leave the clearing.
“Stop! I fucking order you to stop! Get back here you insolent upsized worm! I’ll have you made into boots for my entire army! Get back here right fucking now!” He screamed but the snake just slithered off into the desert leaving them in a now emptier clearing with the short pyramid at the center. Though this did help highlight just how many hundreds of regular skeletons were still around them, dozens of the elite guard, and twenty or so of the big jackalpeople mummies.
“I guess dick’s just don’t know how to talk to ladies.” Steve joked as the others chuckled.
“Forget this fucking foreplay!” Scott called out and pointed a jeweled scepter at them. “I’m still king dick here! Even if I have to track down that traitor and skin her later you won’t be more than a fleshy lump once my warriors are done eviscerating you! There’s four against an army! Was this your plan you festering maggot!?”
“Uh… No. My plan… was…” Steve floundered a moment as he tried to think of what to say. But then against the dark sky above them he saw a green light. When he looked up a massive sphere was hurtling through the air towards them. “Hah! That was my plan dickwad! Behold! The Orb of Donelaps! Eh… why is it all fuzzy?” He wondered for a moment, somewhat stealing his own thunder as the now fuzzy green orb smashed into the ground behind much of the skeletal army.
The fuzz became readily apparent however as the sphere poured open to reveal hundreds of cheering werehusky barbarians who came charging out with all manner of weapon at hand. A mighty battlecry rose up from their ranks and echoed out all around them as they descended upon the unprepared skeletons. “Fooooood!”
“Yeah! Food!” Fenrina cried out as she pumped her sword in the air.
“Why am I not surprised?” Steve asked with a roll of his eyes as the barbarians clashed with the skeletons and mostly focused on ripping them apart to chew on their many bones.
“Steve we’ve still got most of an army between them and us.” Sherry reminded him and he looked around as the ten foot tall jackalpeople mummies closed in.
“Oh shit right.” They backed up against the wreckage of his SAFFECSPM and prepared to fend off the attackers as he yelled up at Scott. “Are you not going to face me yourself Scott? Man to man?”
“No!” The skeleton called back immediately.
“What? Why not!” Steve yelled back.
“Because I’m a dick! How do you not get this?!” The skeleton shrugged as he looked back down on them.
“Oh yeah! Well you might change your mind when you realize you can’t do this!” Steve called out and flipped Scott off.
“Yes I can!” Scott quickly extended a hand to flip Steve off in return.
“Uh… let's try that again. You can’t do this!” Steve now extended both hands to give Scott the double bird.
“This is getting tiresome.” The skeletal king sighed and then set his scepter into a stand so he could double bird Steve in return, only to discover his missing finger. “What! How dare you abscond with my second favorite finger!”
“Yeah! I bet you’d like to demonstrate how you feel with your hands! Except you can’t!” Steve taunted as he waved Scott’s finger at him.
“Murder him and retrieve my finger! I’m coming down there!” Scott screamed and began to stomp down the pyramid towards them.
“Alright guys! If we work together we can-” Steve started only to be jostled as Fenrina bounced off him and then leapt at the nearest mummy as she swiped across his chest, landing besides him and driving her blade into his knee before twisting the blade to pop the mummified leg apart and then spinning away to start attacking the next one.
“Sorry Steve already busy!” She called out as he stood there.
“Fuck… I didn’t teach her… any of that.” He muttered and then looked up as one of the ten foot tall mummies approached him. “Right right… I’ve got this…” He muttered and tried to think about not only what he could cast, but what might work. He’d been going through his supplies alarmingly quickly so far.
“I uh…” The mummy stomped closer as it raised a massive sickle above him. “Uhhhh uhh.. I cast rock!” He slapped together some ingredients and then tossed a pebble at the mummy which bounced off its head. The mummy actually stopped and seemed to give him a confused look. “I cast bigger rock!” Steve shouted and rubbed his hands with the remains of the ingredients and pointed at the mummy as a boulder flew out of the sky and smashed mummy’s skull off completely.
“Hah! I got one guys!” Even as he looked over Fenrina was somehow dueling three of the mummies all at the same time, parrying blows with her sword and shield as she deftly kicked, bashed, and stabbed them in return. Sherry was using her bonewing bow once more to impale mummies and Scott’s elite guard. Larry had initiated a holy poetry slam as he hurled divine insults about how ugly the mummies were to crush their spirits, just before he used his hammer to crush their bones for good measure. “Seriously? When did I become the slacker? When did this happen?” Steve asked no one.
“Shitsucker!” Steve looked back and let out a rather unmanly squeal of surprise as he narrowly leaned out of the way of a blast of green energy from the magical staff the skeletal king held. “You die now!” Scott called out and began to wave his hands to no doubt follow up with a spell.
“Hah! Eat disintegration!” Steve yelled back and grabbed the last of his prepared reagent pouches as he cast the words and fired back at Scott with a golden beam of pure energy before the skeleton could react. However the entire beam just seemed to course around the skeleton as shadowy orbs appeared to deflect the magic. “Uh… well… That was the last of the spells I had planned for today… If you could just… wait for my team to finish up…” Steve suggested and to his surprise Scott stopped casting.
“Oh sure.” He nodded.
“Really?” Steve asked in surprise.
“NO!” Scott screamed and raised his hands as a series of shadow bolts began to fly out towards Steve, making him curse and fling himself around to very narrowly avoid getting impaled. Once the cascade of bolts was over Scott began to cast once more but Steve just tossed his finger at him.
“Here! Take it!” He hollered and backed up as Scott grabbed the finger.
“Yes! Now I can properly flip off children with both hands!” Scott cackled a moment but his cackling was cut short as the finger began to sizzle. “Wait… No!” At the last moment the skeleton reached to grab his arm but it was too late as the finger erupted in a pulse of energy that knocked Scott flat. The shadowy bubbles around him shimmered before they vanished with a distinct POP.
“Huh… I don’t know what I expected… but that wasn’t it.” Steve muttered.
“Alright! Steve! You did it! How do you like that Scott? Steve fingerbanged the shit out of you!” Fenrina called out as she cleaved through the last of the mummies.
“Ugh.” Steve groaned.
“Uuugghh… your dog is disgusting.” Scott muttered as he began to get up.
“Yeah she is at times.” Steve nodded.
“Why won’t anyone tell me what it means!? OOoooo I wanna knoooow!” Fenrina wailed with a howl.
“Anyway it’s you and me now Scott! Man against skeleton!” Steve grinned and charged forward as he hauled off and punched Scott in the face, making the skeleton’s head spin around wildly. “How ya like that! No more magic! Just punching!”
“Yeah Steve fist him good!” Fenrina encouraged as she began to bound over.
“Oh for fuck’s sake… Please just… stop.” Steve groaned out and tried to focus on punching Scott’s spinning skull once more. But this time as he tried he gasped in pain as Scott’s teeth clamped around his knuckles. “Aaahhh! Oowww! OW! Stop it!” He tried to pry his hand free of Scott’s mouth but the skeleton growled and chewed harder for a moment until finally letting go. Steve staggered back clutching his now bloody hand.
“What’s wrong Steve? Didn’t know I was a biter?!” Scott asked with a cackle. By now Fenrina had charged over, but to his surprise when she swung to smash Scott apart with her sword the skeleton parried the blow with his arm. Every blow she swun was parried by the one armed skeleton as she even tried to shield bash, and kick only to be countered at every turn. “Fools! I am a warrior king! I’m more than just magic! Even my bones have been enchanted! Nothing you wield can harm me!” Rolling past Fenrina Scott plucked his staff up from the ground and spun it around before smashing it into the werehusky, sending her flying in a burst of magic energy as shs slammed into the side of the SAFFECSPM with a howl.
Steve looked around a moment in desperation and found Scott’s other arm that had been blown free by the fingerbanging earlier. Picking it up he wielded it like a flail and charged at the skeleton who was leveling his staff at Fenrina. Steve lashed out with the arm to slap Scott with it, knocking the skeleton aside and causing his magical bolts to fly wildly into the air. “Quit hitting yourself! Quit hitting yourself!” Steve began to chant then as he slapped Scott with his own arm, knocking the villain back step by step, getting him closer to the front of the engine.
“Motherless-” Scott began to hiss even as Steve slapped him across the face once more. But the king had enough as he slammed his staff into the ground and Steve was sent flying back with an energy pulse. “Enough!” Scott bellowed.
“That’s what you think!” Sherry called out as a fire spear shot through Scott’s ribs. But the skeleton just stood there entirely unimpressed.
“Oh no. Fire. What is it going to do? Burn me to the bone?” He asked and snapped the spear apart to toss it aside.
“Larry! We need divine magic here!” Sherry called out but the air around them flickered and grew… not exactly dark… but not exactly light. It was… moody. Nicely so. Steve slowly picked himself up and looked over as he and Sherry both saw the dwarf sitting on a rock a little ways away with some candles out, drinking from his waterskin. “What… Is he?” Sherry started.
“Larry! Did you just use the last of your magic to have a fucking wine break?!” Steve shouted at the dwarf who just held up a finger and kept upending his entire waterskin having turned it into wine. “Fucking healer’s union and their mandatory breaks!” Steve hissed.
“It doesn’t matter.” Sherry called out and pointed behind Scott as the army of barbarian werehuskies got closer, tearing apart the skeletons with ease. “You’re done Scott.”
“A dick isn’t done until there’s nothing left!” Scott screamed back and drove his staff into the ground. “It might take me a thousand years but I can dig myself out eventually! Can you?!” He asked as the cliffs all around them began to shake and rumble. The shadowlighting from the dark sky coursing out and striking at the rocks as it became clear he planned to bury everyone here with him.
Fenrina slowly pulled herself up besides the machine then and raised a hand. “Steve! Bone me!”
“Ugghh…” Steve groaned.
“Uuuugghhh…” Sherry shuddered.
Larry just kept drinking wine.
“Okay… even I think that was especially crass.” Scott sighed.
“What? Why are you all…” Fenrina looked confused and waved her hand. “Steve! The bone! In your hand! Throw it to me! BONE ME!”
“Oh. OH!” Steve hastily reached back and hurled the arm towards her. Scott tried to reach up and grab it but it just cleared his fingers allowing Fenrina to snatch it out of the sky and shove it into the grinder at the front of the engine. The whole thing crackled as Scott’s extremely potent fossilized remains sent a surge of energy through it and the wreckage of Steve’s machine drove forward.
“Noooo!” Scott screamed out just before the grinder slammed into him, but the wreck was halted against the staff stuck into the ground. The engine shuddered and sparks rose up around it as it was filled with energy.
[Continued in Comments]
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