It's been a turbulant month here at the Propaganda Unlimited offices; Intelligent Shade of Blue, the PU flagship, went down in a blaze of molten death (some people say it started doing that a long time ago, but that's another story). Temporary operations were moved to the Temple of Pong, an emergency evacuation that ALMOST started to work before that, too, bit the big one. Meanwhile, mainstream America became enchated with a film about a retarded philosopher (go figure) and the editor got a new 486 and promptly became a D00M addict.[Note at press time: After vanquishing the Spiderdemon, the editor has gone on to an even worse X-COM addiction. There seems to be a pattern here.]
Even a thriving D00M addiction, though, must be preferable to that all-encompassing, nearly Cthulhoid menace of Magic: The Gathering. And you thought the Reds were gonna brainwash our country's citizens with hypnotic suggestion? The real enemy is down at your local comic shop, and the war is OVER. Me, I'm holding out for Jyhad, in all of its AlTeRnaG0Th glory.
And speaking of Cthulhu, communists, mind control and Goths, (how's THAT for the segue from hell?) the whole PU staff is assembled and ready once again to inflict its warped version of reality upon an unsuspecting world. And a special welcome to Platinum Ego, Malakai and Dr. Fig, the latest members of our zany little troupe. They're recovering quite nicely from the initiation party (though I still can't get the whipped cream stains out of the Zamboni seat, and the Official Sheep has been gone for a week), and we're glad to have 'em.
ISOB has been fully remodeled and rechristened as the Strangeways Asylum (all the more fitting for the PU Flagship), and the distribution net features a number of new numbers-- check 'em out, you won't be disappointed. A few people were inquiring about becoming sites just before the Great Crash-- please, contact us again and we'll get that underway.Until next time, Peace, Love and Mangoberries Out.
Anyway, the impetus for this particular missive was Newt's article, "Mango Madness Abroad". I found it to be interesting and sad. Newt is correct in accusing Americans of missing out on the joys of the more dramatic fruits. Unfortunately, this is only one result of their having grown up in a country built largely upon apathy (just ask Midget Caesar). As Newt pointed out after experiencing the world outside of the US, other nations seem not so uncomfortable with experimenting with the tastes of the more exotic fruits. She noted that the Swiss actually offer such delacies as pear and mango jellies. I ask the PU readers if they have ever seen such spreads in our corner of the world. We all know the answer.
That in mind, I applaud the Swiss for their sense of fruity innovation. HOWEVER, I must admit I restrain my applause. For, though the Swiss produce such a wonder as mango jelly, "it didn't even recieve a second glance by the natives," said Newt. So... what's the deal? They make the stuff but don't eat it? Come ON!
That made me start thinking (as few things actually do anymore). With all due respect to Newt, maybe she was ever so slightly off the mark. At least in one case. I think there is a growing percentage of Americans who have become adventuresome and expanded their taste toward less mundane fruit products. Like the Swiss, some Americans (namely the folk at the otherwise evil Snapple Corrup-- uhm, Corporation) do produce an exotic fruit product. However-- based on Newt's observation of the Swiss people neglecting to consume the apparently readily available mango jelly-- the similarity between Swiss and American ends right there. I have undeniable proof that folks around my neck o' the woods have been consuming (yep!) great quantities of that masterpiece called Mango Madness Cocktail. For the past few weeks, ever since I wrote that Mango Madness Cocktail review thing for PU, I have found it IMPOSSIBLE to find the stuff on store shelves. ANYWHERE. And it's not that the establishments don't stock it anymore-- the price tags with product descriptions are always posted. Simply put, the nectar of the mango is snatched up quicker than the eye, naked or otherwise, can see. It was only yesterday I was able to corner a bottle for m'self (ask Constantine).
My point is, yes Newt, most Ameri-sheep are too timid to savor the true delicacies of the fruit world-- but more and more people are discovering the goodness and godliness of the mango. That just warms the cockles of my-- wait, what exactly ARE cockles, anyway? Do I have any? Hmmm... Anyway, wht I want to say is, the word is getting out. Mango Madness is indeed growing.That's something we should ALL be proud of.
There has been something casting a shadow at the back of my mind lately... you know, the part that's almost always covered in cobwebs but is only used when some important question crosses your mind, like what was the name of the boy who played Peter on the Brady Bunch, and you don't remember for a few days until you're in math class and you aren't even thinking about it and suddenly you know it was Chris Knight? No, I haven't been pondering the youngest one in curls (Susan Olson - ha!), but rather why on earth I have to take so many gosh darn standardized tests.
I was thinking about it today, and by my estimate, I will have taken fourteen standardized tests this year alone. No really - think about it. PSAT, SAT, ACT, four Achievement Tests (oh, excuse me, SAT IIs), AP French and US History exams, a national French contest and one in math too, a consumer education profieciency exam, and two IGAP tests. What disturbs me is that, even though I believe I test well, I, like everyone else, cannot be represented by little ovals and Number Two pencils, and yet these exams continue to define my being through my social security number.
Standardized tests have been proven to be biased. Take this little nugget - the SAT has been repeatedly shown to be biased by race, gender, and family income and yet nothing ever happens to change this. Between a boy and a girl who score 20 on the math portion of the ACT, the boy's SAT math score is predicted to be a 540, but the girl's is predicted as only 470. I'm not going to get into a feminist tirade because that's not what I'm angry about. I'm angry that everyone knows these tests are poor indicators of performance and continue to be used to label us as smart, average, or...uh...intellectually impaired. Fact is, a lot of people don't test well.
Fact is, my SAT scores don't tell anything about who I am, where I want to be, what I cherish in this world, what my favorite fruit is. Fact is...many colleges base their decisions on this and another number -your GPA.
I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. All I'm saying is...think about it next time you have ten minutes to go in one of these tests, have made your marks dark, and are trying not to become comatose. Know that you are nothing but a number, a percentile to some people. And protest.
Through the skies flew a saviour, a strong, brave man. His 28.8 modem carried him with unbelievable speed, soaring towards the troubled land of Dystropia, where he was much needed.
He was summarily stopped for speeding, and when it was found that he didn't have a Saviours License on him, he was brought in and thrown in jail.
Meanwhile, Constantine, who may not fit the heroic archetype but can cook a mean batch of brownies, was also headed in the same direction. While waiting at a red light, he reached into the glove department of his newly acquired 28.8 looking for more lemon-scented wet tissues but found instead a somewhat massive volume titled:
"The end is near. (okay, so it's just catching up, but it'll be here soon) The recent, tumultuous [the word tumultuous is thrown in here for no good reason] events have resulted in the departure of Reality.
"The frequent temper tantrums of Reality can be traced to the fact that Reality has led a rather confined life. It doesn't get out much. Reality has approximately infinity [give or take a few] planes of existence to monitor, which it must be admitted is a somewhat boring job. We had hoped that the entire centuries that Reality periodically takes off to catch up on the soaps would calm it down [As advised in the critically acclaimed interdimensional best- seller, "Raising Reality For Fun and Profit, by Dr. J. E. Hovah], but it has not.
"We Apathetics have been entrusted with the task of taking care of this. Our secretary responded to the assignment of this monumental task with a semi-awake "Uh huh, sure, OK." Thus we are committed.
"The Most Important Bureaucratic Person In Dystropia could not really be bothered with the task of giving us the details, so he sent his assistant T-Bone Kiwallayummies instead.
"He interrupted our current Head Person, Lou, while Lou was engaged in our time-honored apathetic meditation handed down through the ages known as taking a nap. By doing so, T-Bone foolishly risked our most feared security device, utter indifference. "Lou, we NEED you!", cried T-Bone in a nasal yet passionate tone. Lou looked up from his meditation.
""Couldn't this have waited until AFTER the O.J. Simpson trial is over?", asked Lou. T-Bone frantically jumped up and down, screaming "LOU! Reality is on the run! The entire universe may be destroyed!"""Your point?", asked Lou with sincere puzzlement [most understandably].
""Yeah, yeah, all right." Lou rose from his bed reluctantly, found his secretary, and asked her to please go find the Heroic People Directory if she had a chance, please, after she made his coffee. She hesitated a moment, then agreed. Thus, did the search begin. After being turned down by a well-dressed man known only as the Hunter, who said something I forgot to record about killing some lamprey, and a dirty looking man named Eric Tyler, who brushed us off with some words that I cannot repeat here, and proceeded to shoot three Apathetics in order to fill his quota of grimness for the day. We are now en route to Cyberspace. We were flatly turned down by out-of-work Security Director Angus McBrutal, who couldn't quite grasp the concept we were putting before him. So we move on....."
I knew I was in trouble when the fish hit my lap. That, and the fleet of Vortaglion Doomships, seeking the head of Joey Lawrence, who pursued me until I got on the subspace radio and assured them that I wasn't carrying any unauthorized poptarts.
The 28.8, a miracle of applied aerodynamics, coasted low over the surface of Dystropia beneath a purple polka-dotted sky. I pulled up on the rudder as a chain of third-world island nations below suddenly erupted in flame, a triumphant cry of "Yahtzee!" filling the air.
Flying over a vast city, I touched down in the middle of the street, in front of the City Courthouse steps. Tickertape and confetti littered the boulevard beneath a banner that read "Dan Quayle for President".
A tiny man covered in reams of crimson tape ran up to me and pumped my hand vigorously. "Mr. Constantine!" he said, "I'm T-Bone, the aide to the most important bureaucrat in Dystropia. The Apathetics told me that you would be arriving shortly. This is where it all started, you know.""The courthouse?"
I picked him up by the collar and hurled him across the threshold, where an invisible pocket of Paradox had been lurking just behind the door. T-Bone screamed in agony as he was simultaneously inside the building and outside the building, a paradox which the universe neatly and promptly resolved by ripping him in half.The universe had a funny sense of humor about such things.
"DAMN YOU!" screamed a voice of pure fury, booming from barely-concealed speakers on the courthouse lawn. I turned to regard the empty street with a grin."I can't see you, Milo, but I know you're watching."
"Easy," I said, "He said that the Apathetics told him that I'd be here soon. The Apathetics won't even notice I'm HERE until next week, and even then they won't bother telling anyone about it until they take a nice long nap. What I want to know is, what do you have to do with the disappearance of Vito Hernandez? You sent that goon to kill me in the Telearena, didn't you? I recognized his voice.""Very clever, but disposing of my right-hand man will do you no good."
Dimensional gateways opened in a ring around the courthouse steps, black voids of swirling darkness looming as Milo roared with evil laughter. It was a hideous, fiendish laugh, one that would have chilled me to my very bones had he not sounded so much like the kid in the Encyclopedia Brittannica commercials."You're in rare form," he said, "But soon you'll be well- done."
As the speakers clicked off and the ninja squad moved in for the kill, I realized I was in deep doo-doo. I reached into my trenchcoat pocket, drew my virus...
Well, here I am again [not on my knees!] and typing up a file on my 286 because I don't want to plug up my other computer. But anyway, I'm typing for a cause, to warn you all about Magic: The Gathering, a new drug which is becoming increasingly popular amungst the role playing/bbsing world in general. I, myself, because addicted the 1st week of Febuary shortly after I purchased my first 'deck' [these are the starters kits, suprisingly, they are not free] at Games Plus in Mt. Prospect. I don't have much money, but a quarter of what I get goes to Magic. This is an UNCONTROLLABLE urge, I cannot understand it, I have heard rumors of a narcotic substance coating the Magic cards which makes them highly addictive, but at any rate, these are HIGHLY addictive.
What is Magic, you ask? Well, don't be too surprised, it's not an actual drug, what it is, is a card game, that's right, an ADDICTIVE card game-- when's the last time you heard about kids getting hooked on shit like "Go Fish" and "Crazy 8's"? Well, this isn't just your everyday AVERAGE card game, this is a card game of combat, strategy [though I still think more luck than strategy take the game in a lot of places] and just general fun things. You are a wizard [PRETEND-LIKE, you aren't really a wizard (if you are, hey, I could use a flight spell or something) ] and you fight another wizard or wizards. To fight them you have your deck, which is essentially your spellbook [I find almost all the time, those with the most money have the best 'SPELL-BOOKS' but they don't always win!] and in your spellbook are monsters of all sorts, lands which you can leech mana from, and enchantments, amungst other things! (but it's not a good idea to mop the floor with Magic cards, as they hold ONLY half of what 'Spectra-Mop' holds.. YES, i am watching an Info-mercial on Channel 32 or whatever the fuck channel I'm on. MV50 is on also, but they always, ALWAYS have shitty mus... er.. on to the topic at hand) But if you need more information on WHAT Magic is, write me/call me/call my board/ call the Obloid/etc...
What's the point of it, you ask? Why, the point is simple, beat the fuck out of the other wizard(s) and stay alive yourself! There are all sorts of variations, cards which defy the rules, cards which make new rules, and just cards in general, so this game can be EXTREMELY fun if you are playing with the right person. Some people like to toy with thier victims and leave them at a low life point total [both wizards usually start with 20 life and as they are attacked by spells/creatures they go down gradually] and just use spells on them that will basically make thier life hell [but it's FUN, so do it (grin) ] Other people [like merciful ol' me] just slaughter the people as quick as they can [I have a fast creature deck I use JUST for such a game] and not spend much time at all playing with the other wizard(s).
There are also variations to the actual game! What variations?! Well, a-ho-ho-ho, I will tell you! [BTW, that was SUPPOSED t'be a haughty laugh but it prob'ly looked like I'm one of the 7 dwarves but ANYWAY] There's normal magic [one on one] that's, well, ... normal! Then there's free-for- all magic, where there's 3 or more players and they all have to fight to be the LAST wizard alive [these games can be ESPECIALLY fun] and of course, there's always my favorite [and usually the longest to play] RAINBOW MAGIC! Well, you see, in Magic, there are 5 colors. White, Black, Red, Blue, and Green.. each symbolizing different elements of things [White = good, black = .. I'll let you GUESS, red = war/fire, blue = mind/water, green = Mo' nacha'] and there are 5 players, each getting one color to play. Well, it's hard to explain to non-Magic: The Junkies, so I won't. Anyway, if you can get a hold of a Starter Deck, do it!
I will PERSONALLY help you learn how to play and learn how to beat everyone [hell, if you're female maybe I'll actually go to your house and show you] If you can get to any Fantasy/Sci-Fi/RPG conventions, Magic: The Gathering is a HOT seller and you can almost SURELY find a deck or 50 at one of them [and if any of you want to learn more about these, ask me, I'll give you some ideas] But anyway, this is [was] Malakai, so I'll [shut up] talk to you [me] later. Sorry, that was an attempt at Mr.Subliminal... BYE!
[Editor's Note: As a participant at the Atlanta
DragonCon last month, I bore witness to entire GALLARIES
filled with Magic players, people with 6-inch-thick binders
full of cards, some poor schmuck offering $500 dollars for
a single rare card...
...I think we need a House Investigation Committee to get on this, RIGHT NOW. --Constantine]