Monday, December 22, 2008
The ring was forged by the master smiths Freddie and Eddie, its face was engraved by Eggo the Waffle stack. Its making consumed all three, and they vanished from the world sometime around 1880. The ring was lost when General Mills was raided by The Honeycomb Kid and his gang of Trix Brats in 1903, but was found again when the ruins were excavated by a team of forensic scientists. The team's leader, George Dixon, was slain by his second, Gus Grissom, who went into hiding and attempted to form an army comprised entirely of extras used in CSI and Law and Order.
The ring was definitely in the hands of the celestial wanderer Little Star, who passed it off to persons unknown before she returned to space sometime in 1993. It shows up again in the hands of the only still living Triplet, Anna, who donates it to the Guggenheim museum in 1996 upon her death. A Cartel of world criminals comprising of Lex Luthor, Snidley Whiplash, Angelica Pickles and Queen Beryl meet up in Queen Beryl's lair inside the Puzzle Place in Petrograd. There they retain the services of espionage master Boris Badenov who, with the help of Pruneface, steal the ring from the Guggenheim. However, Boris betrays the cartel, and feels to Chicago, where he tries to receive the protection of retired Crime Lord Bluto. Bluto rejects Badenov’s entreaties and Badenov, along with Pruneface, are brutally executed by ex-Mafia hit-man Luigi, who now serves Queen Beryl.
The stage is set for a global conflict when Dick Tracy reveals to International Rescue of what has occurred. When John Tracy confirms for his brother Virgil about what has occurred, Virgil has no other choice. He contacts Billy Blazes, now riddled by lung cancer, that he tells him that he must recall the Rescue Heroes to active duty. While Billy begins his laborious task, everything is thrown for a loop when a team up between Carmen Sandiago and Ghostwriter successfully steal the ring from the cartel, and everyone on both sides scramble to figure out where in the world they are. But when Darkwing Duck finds Carmen dead, having been killed in an assassination attempt by Wishbone and Zoboomafoo, fear strikes the hearts of all! From deep within Groundling Marsh, an insignificant region of a Louisianan bayou, a heroine who cast her back on the world will here the cries of the world and return to civilization to find the ring and save the world.
Sunday, December 21, 2008
"You know," Ruxpin said conversationally "they still burn you in effigy in Taipei." Across from him, sitting at a desk, was a wizened Pekingese. His fur, white to begin with, had simply faded into an unhealthy translucent yellow, not unlike a wall that has been covered with nicotine. In some places it was patchy, especially on the heart shaped ears, and the flesh bellow was dry and flaky. Behind glasses, small, highly ulcered black eyes had sunk deeper into the head over the years, and one was covered with the milky film of blindness. The teeth were seriously yellowed, and the gums cut and black. The creature did not look up from his writing. He remained bent towards his paper, his handwriting highly ornate and calligraphic. When he finally spoke, it was in an almost comically accented English.
"Is that so?" the dog said, in a tone suggesting absent curiosity. He continued to write.
"They mock your name, and the argument rages over all your betrayals."
"How quaint local customs are."
"The Manchu Mutt is popular. But they mostly call you Cixi's Last Eunuch." This actually got a rise out of the dog. His head rose slowly, and his eye burned with anger for a moment, before he returned to his placid state.
"Xiao Qin Xian was a great woman, Colonel. She only ever had the best interests of China at heart. As do I."
"Oh I'm sure you do. After Cixi dies, you betrayed her legacy to Chiang. And then Chiang to the Communists. Then the Communists to the Japanese, you played your games for poor Puyi and then you sold everything back to Mao. China's best interests, I'm sure."
"You inflate my importance greatly, Colonel. I am merely a humble comrade of this nation."
"How is it that you're still alive, Pong Ping? You must be, what, ninety? A hundred?"
"I have been gifted with long life so that I may serve, Colonel. That is all."
"What was it that she said, Ping? 'Thus shall it preserve its integrity and self-respect - but if it dies, remember thou too art mortal.'"
"A bastardization, Colonel. You should read such things more closely." Pong Ping carefully removed his glasses, setting them to one side. His frail frame leaned back in his chair. He regarded Ruxpin from behind his steepled fingers. "What is it that you want of me, N'Ruxpin?"
"You know, Ping, I remember the first time we met. Me, strapped to a table, you sorting lengths of bamboo in a rubber apron...."
"I can have you removed in seconds, Colonel, is there a point to all this?"
"von Possenreißer. Where is she?"
"The Living Doll? Whatever makes you think I know where to find her?"
"You kept tabs on every last member of the Fallen Angels. You couldn't stand not knowing where she is." At this, Ping chuckled to himself, a dry, husky relic of a laugh that came out from some where within the narrow frame.
"You know, N'Ruxpin, I once knew someone much like you. I met him in England when the Red Guard went wild and Mao went mad. I spent three years in exile, you know. Dreadful business. Rupert was quite young, and an Illiopian in exile, again like you- well, like all of you, really. Full of passion and ability, with a desire for adventure. Unlike you, though, he didn't ruin his life with drink and petty scandal. He's a mercenary leader in Magadan, trying to carve out a new Illiop. Now, you and I both know he is going to fail, but you know what? He's not breaking into buildings to exchange meaningless pleasantries with old men. Good-day to you, Colonel." Pong Ping returned to his writing. Ruxpin leaned up against a wall, lit up, and exhaled in a long breath.
"You know why you're going to tell me, you old mongrel? It's cause deep, deep down in that blackened little heart, you're a romantic. You like epics. And you've got your grubby paws on the pulse of the world. You know it's getting quicker. And every side in a epic needs it's champion, doesn't it. To make it watchable. To make it... fun. What does my side have right now? International Rescue, Rescue Heroes and the like... bureaucrats and organisations. You can't committee a hero. You got to have one take command." Pong Ping did not look up, but he stopped writing, and his ears twitched. "But your an old man, Ping. You're not out for some bildungsroman. You want a proven hero, like the ones of our youth. You want someone proven. So you're going to give me that location. Because even in the height of spring, you feel cold. Your a dying, evil old man, with so much on his conscience that ya gave up on sleep years ago. So here's an old enemy offering redemption. And you're too well read to pass up on it." There was a long silence. Then a drawer opened, and a slip of paper was removed. Pong Ping just sat there, face down and shaking, though whether with silent laughter or silent tears it was impossible to determine. Finally, he crumpled the paper into a ball and tossed it Ruxpin. With a silent nod, Ruxpin left, leaving Pong Ping alone.
He walked briskly down the hallway, his mind filled with calculations. How much fuel was needed, what supplies he should stock up on... he was suddenly aware of someone humming off tune and close by. He looked around. Leaning up against a pillar, humming to himself, was a baby blue dog, who looked at Ruxpin with a laconic smile.
"Good afternoon, there" the dog said in a languid Southern drawl. "The name's Hound. H. Hound. And I'll bet that you'd be Mr. Ruk Slim."
"Ruxpin" Ruxpin said irritably. "Can I help you?"
"Well, now that's a matter of opinion, MR. Slim."
"It's Ru- oh never mind."
"Ya see, I rep-er-a-sent a group of fine ladies and gents who, t' be frank, aren't all that pleased with what you're trying to do. I mean, I've been sending you mess-ages to that effect, but I don't think you've been listening. So I thought that perhaps something a little closer to home might get yer attention." Ruxpin began to reach into his vest. "Oh don't be alarmed, Colonel. I wouldn't want to insult out China-ese hosts by doing anything un-t-ward in one of their governmental buildings." The Hound's smile didn't change, but it suddenly looked harsh and vicious. "Say, Mr. Slim, didn't you come here with a friend or something? Beijing's a dangerous place. I'd hate fer something to happen to the poor fellow." Under his fur, Ruxpin went white. With a muffled yell, he tore off down he hallway, leaving a smiling dog in his wake.
"Hände hoch oder ich schieße!"
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro' the jaws of Death,
Back from the mouth of hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.
When Regimental Colonel Theordoros "Teddy" Ap Mohiam N'Ruxpin (the only Illiopian to ever hold rank in the American armed forces) was charged with "conduct unbecoming in an officer", his legal fees become untenable, and he was forced to pawn off the majority of his possessions. Of special note was the airship he inherited from his father. Unwilling to sell it off permanently, he loaned instead to a museum of aeronautics. Their yearly rent went straight to his creditors, and he never saw a penny of it. It was not without some considerable effort that it was taken out of the museum and put in the air. Both the museum director and several local pilots had protested that the Airship was in no state to travel, and was completely un-airworthy. Ruxpin had simply kicked the engine a bit, sworn a lot in Illiopian and finally shoved a wrench in at an odd angle.
The flight over the Pacific Ocean had been uneventful. Ruxpin had spent the entire trip on deck, starring moodily into the clouds and making his cigarette last an improbably long time. Tweety chose to take refuge below decks. The place was sumptuously, decadently decorated, with intricately carved panelling, an ornate wardroom table, and wall hangings of improbable design. When questioned on his flying Rococo showcase, Ruxpin was as unresponsive as he'd been to questions about where they were going, how he was driving, what was keeping them in the air and where the head was. They had stopped in Taiwan for a layover. Ruxpin was out of Morleys. When he came back, his face was grim.
"When you came to see me, did you see anyone follow you? Anyone who looked out of place?"
"No... I don't believe so." Tweety replied, a little puzzled. "Why?" At first, Ruxpin did not respond, he simply busied himself with whatever it was that got the Airship from the ground to the air. Finally he responded.
"Two days ago, they fished the body of suspected killer Luigi Fratelli out of Lake Erie. Over twelve bullet holes in his back." Tweety went pale.
"Forty hours ago, they're was a prison riot in the woman's ward of Sing-Sing prison. Only one casualty, an inmate by the name of Slaghoople."
"Twenty-nine hours ago, they're was a a huge gang shootout between rival gangs in Bangkok. Among the dead was local merchant and Indian ex-pat P. Panther."
"Twelve hours ago, a military asylum in Illinois caught fire and burned to the ground, killing most of the patients. And three hours ago your house was also burned."
"My house.... wait, the asylum! Bunny, is he?" At this, Ruxpin actually smiled.
"Oh, it would take more than being surrounded b burning slag to take out Bunny. You know, I once saw him him win an arm wrestling contest by ripping off another man's arm?" Ruxpin became reflective. "They're out to get us, Bird." They sat in silence for a while. "I had hoped I'd never have to say this, Corporal, but... welcome back to China."
Despite his radio threats to do so, Ruxpin did not land in Tiananmen Square. He landed in the Back Sea in Shichahai, where he proceeded to irritate the ducks and argue with the Beijing municipal police. Tweety, feeling more useless than ever, spent his time sitting on top of the wheelhouse, trying to read a book of Quin dynasty poetry, without much success. His Chineese had been picked up during his years in a prison camp, and it was idiosyncratic, at best. Eventually, a courier made his way through the mod of cops and bureaucrats and handed Ruxpin a note, which he brought to Tweety.
"Here" he said gruffly. "It's in Cǎoshū. I don't read Cǎoshū." Tweety glanced at the note.
"It's an address" he said, copying it out into English. Ruxpin read it over.
"Did your wife teach you how to haggle over a parking ticket?"
"Good. Stay here and argue with the nice mob. I've got to go see a Pekingese about people skills."
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
"It's the sky. It does that." There was silence.
"This thing got a name?"
"Yes." There was some more silence. "I meant did the airship have a name?"
".... you named your airship Airship? What kind of name is that?
"A practical one."
"Was it your first choice, then?"
"Well, it used to be named after Arin."
"And what happened?"
"It wasn't named Arin anymore."
"No, I mean what happened with Arin?"
"I stopped naming my airship after her."
"..... are we there yet?"
"Does this look like China?"
Monday, December 15, 2008
A favela in Rio.
Sfx: The Overture to Tannhauser plays over the credits.
The knock on what could politely be described as a door at first elicited nothing but silence. Then, after a few more patient knocks, a rumble was heard from within the squalid, filth-ridden excuse for an apartment. Eventually, bolts were unlocked from within, and the door was opened a crack. The beady black eye affixed itself on the occupant below. The voice that issued from behind it muttered something in broken Portuguese. The visitor replied, apologetically in English:
"I'm sorry, sir, but I don't speak..." The voice cut him off.
"I said: you're a little short for my usual clientele." On hearing this, the petite Cpl. Bird smiled.
"Oh, I'm not here for any services, Colonel. I'm here on business."
At the word "Colonel", the eye narrowed and pulled away. The chain was removed from the door, and Tweety was allowed to enter. It was also his first chance to get a look at the bear, though the light from the room's sole, bare bulb was undoubtedly not doing him any favours. Ruxpin's once proud, tall figure had become hunched and weathered. Excessive nicotine use had yellowed his fur, and the smell was one of soured gin. The fur around his mouth and paws was severely singed from cigarette burns, as was, for that matter, the apartment. A single room, it contained a squat, dormant fridge with it's door ajar, a few sagging cupboards that were mostly empty, a husk of a table with two rough stools between them, and in the corner, a stained, lumpy bed. It was not a room to inspire confidence. Ruxpin rested his massive frame on one of the stools, and issued for Tweety to do the same. Hampered by his small stature, Tweety was obligated to alight himself on the table instead. He watch in silence for a time, as Ruxpin methodically, expertly disassembled a handful of filter less cigarette butts, transferring their meagre contents to a fresh piece of rolling paper. This task completed, he rolled it up and lit it, shuddering visibly with relief as the tobacco hit his system. After a while, he appeared to notice Tweety, and shifted his attention to him.
"I'm not a colonel anymore." Ruxpin said at last, his low growl wistful and pained.
"But you used to be, sir" Tweety said demurely. Ruxpin again narrowed his eyes at the bird.
"I know you from somewhere?" Tweety nodded.
"I served with you, Colonel. I was there when the- when they flanked us in Land Four. At Wario's Landing. I was there when... when the world ended." Ruxpin stared off into cigarette smoke.
"Apt way at putting it." he said at last. There was another silence. "Bird. T. Bird, Corporal. I3324-12. 2nd Company. Putt-Putt's platoon." Tweety nodded in agreement. Another pause. "How'd you find me, Bird?"
"Panther. And I found him only 'cause Bunny was having a lucid moment. Panther may have been running guns for almost thirty years, but he wouldn't forget his old 2ic. He's the type that looks after his own. He sends a check to your account once a month, in lieu of your pension. Just enough to live on. Every so often you get desperate enough and make a withdrawal. I just traced the money flow."
"And how'd you do that, exactly?"
"My late wife, Elmyra, she was in finance. I learned some... techniques from her." Ruxpin nodded, and rubbed out his cigarette between his fingers. The smell of burnt fur hung in the air.
"Why? What'd you want me for?"
"Colonel Ruxpin... the MacGuffin ring is gone." Ruxpin's shadowed face betrayed not a single emotion. Tweety proceeded to tell him what he knew, adding in the visit from Luigi and what little he had gleaned from Bunny's inane rambling. Ruxpin's only response during the story was to bring out a bottle of foul smelling liquor and to drink from it heavily. It had no discernible effect.
"So what do you want me to do, Bird? I don't know where it is." At this Tweety grew quite grave.
"Sir... anyone with half a brain can see where this is leading. The great Wars, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Gulf War ... all these events because people only knew where the ring wasn't. And now it's gone again. Tensions are heating up. It doesn't matter why people are going to take sides about this- they just are. And then people are going to die. Colonel, we need someone who can rally people, inspire people. We need someone who can end this thing faster than anyone. Sir... we need the Old Lady."
"And you think I know where she is?"
"No. But I think you're the best person to find her. You know her better than any of us left. That's what Slaghoople said. I tried. She... doesn't use her bank account." Tweety finished weakly. Ruxpin gave him a stare. Then a long, bitter laugh emitted from his lips.
"Me? I'm the best person to find her? Look at me, boy! I'm in a fucking hovel, turning tricks for vacationing frat boys and and fearful bureaucrats who have the sort of fantasies no one must ever know about. Look at me, Bird. I'm your hero, off to find your fucking savior? I have to go out there every god damned day, with that fucking Redentor staring down at me, staring into my skull. What makes you think I have any will left? Wash-up, that's what I am. Go lay your geis on someone else." Ruxpin sank back on his bed, his face in what passed for a pillow. Tweety asked quietly:
"But your airship..."
"It's in hock." Ruxpin said in a muffled voice. "You think I'd be here if I could flee this hell hole? Cidade Maravilhosa my furry ass..."
"And if I could get it out?" Ruxpin's head snapped up angrily.
"Then I'd be a fucking wash up with a mothballed airship. What makes you think I can fin her then?"
"Colonel, you were trained by Smokey himself. You worked in Yogi's Rangers for three years before they bumped you up three pay grades to be the XO for the 2nd Irregulars. You were one of the best intel men they had. You must have contacts from here to Guam if you bothered to get out there. I thought I saw some worth is you after Sonic got his head blown all over you, and you still pulled us out of that rout. Christ, Ruxpin, we didn't loose four hundred men at the Landing just so you could curl up here and die." Ruxpin remained buried in his pillow for a while. Then he spoke.
"Airship money. Where's it from?"
"Bunny cut me a check. They gave him quite a pension, but he sure as hell ain't using it." There was another, thoughtful silence.
"Get me some real, filtered, honest to god Morley Lites."
"Does this mean you'll do it?" Tweety asked hopefully. Ruxpin gave a laugh.
"It means.... I'm sick of hand-rolled."
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Tweety had a ritual. Every night at midnight or so he would make himself a strong drink and wait by the phone. One a week, without fail, Luigi would get horribly drunk, forget the time zone difference between the States and Russia and call Tweety, where he proceed to cry about his griefs for at least an hour and a half. But this time was different. Instead of a call, poor Tweety was forced to have Luigi come in through his front door, drunk as a skunk and covered in blood. Luigi ranted for hours about his execution of Badnove, let slip information about the Cartel, and then stole off into the night. Tweety, worried about the oncoming storm, vowed to find the one person he knew could help... but where to find her?
Monday, December 8, 2008
Sunday, December 7, 2008
Saturday, December 6, 2008
I'm not one for moralizing meaningless dribble about fascist hegemony in this post-modern age of capital new Prussian autocracy, but I'd like to post this picture of Walt Disney and Werner Von Braun. Draw your own conclusions to fit your preferred world view.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Monday, December 1, 2008
And he fails. Just like Quixote, Atticus fails. And he fights the best god damned fight he can, we cheer for him, are fueled by the passion of his argument, of his fight. And he fails because it was not possible to succeed.
There's... there's a line from the book. Atticus has lost, and exits the courtroom, and the entire upper balcony rises to mark his going, as a sign of respect, as a sign of gratitude. Reverend Sykes says to young Scout "Miss Jean-Louise, stand up. Your father's passing."
We don't do that anymore. We don't tilt lances with Knights of the White Moon, we don't go for lost causes. We don't stand for those who do. Maybe we never did.