Jan/3/2021 news: __ Top-10 anti corruption charges of 2020 __ POW & search __ Russian aid __ Refugees return __ Protecting the church __ Artsakh's international recognition __ Oil & gas news __ Chess & soccer events __ Guinness World Record __ Importing more Iranian products __ Syunik borders __
Your 7-minute Sunday report in 1743 words.
10 notable anti-corruption cases in 2020
10) SIS concluded the investigation of former president Serj Sargsyan's alleged embezzlement of ֏500 million in agricultural subsidies in 2013. Serj appeared in court as a defendant in February. The case continues. 9) ex-HHK MP and ex-Soccer Federation Chief Ruben Hayrapetyan (oligarch Nemets Rubo) was charged with large-scale embezzlement. In February, he was charged with embezzling $1.5 million-worth lands belonging to the Soccer Federation. (he was earlier implicated in the case about organizing the kidnapping, extortion, and torturing of a man who allegedly stole from his restaurant) 8) ex-Yerevan Mayor and Transport Minister HHK Gagik Beglaryan was charged with embezzling ֏230 million in state property. He was also interrogated as part of a ֏23 billion embezzlement in the North-South highway construction project. His brother is implicated in a ֏85 million embezzlement case. 7) ex-Culture Minister Hasmik Poghosyan (wanted) and ex Israel Ambassador Armen Smbatyan (paid a bail) are charged with using an offshore scheme to embezzle the state property. 6) Serj Sargsyan's brother Alexander was a defendant in the case of the 14 stolen paintings by Martiros Saryan. Pashinyan announced that Alexander's $30 million bank account was frozen. Alexander agreed to return the funds to state coffers. $26 million was recovered. $7.5 million was recovered as part of Martiros Saryan's painting case. Another $19 million was recovered -- or as he says, "donated" -- for the army modernization. 5) Powerful Churchman Archbishop Kchoyan (Bentley guy) was charged as part of an investigation of the forceful appropriation of another businessman's property by using an offshore firm, which was run by several individuals, including the churchman and allegedly the former Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan. More on that here. 4) Felony case was launched over the purchase of $42 million in weapons that turned out to be dysfunctional. Pashinyan mentioned this on several occasions, blaming the former regime for "wasting resources instead of developing the army." More recently, Pashinyan criticized General Movses "Mosi" Hakobyan, saying the waste took place under his administration. 3) Serj Sargsyan's chief bodyguard Vachagan Ghazaryan and his alleged accomplices had their felony tax-evasion charges dropped after compensating ֏3 billion ($6.3 million) to state coffers. 2) Serj's son-in-law Mikael Minasyan (Povar Ishik) was charged by IRS in March after the "revelation of an unprecedented level of corruption in modern Armenian history". Minasyan is accused of illegal enrichment. The investigation continues. Minasyan is residing in Russia, which won't extradite him due to close connections. Details on Mishik's case here, here, here, here (laptop recovered with 9000 files), here, here, here, here, maybe here, definitely here, here, here, 1) BHK leader Gagik Tsarukyan was charged with organizing an election fraud during 2017 and financial crimes by his casino Shangri La. The investigation began in late 2019 after a construction firm, with ties to Tsarukyan, paid a bribe to a Yerevan official in an unrelated incident. Tsarukyan likely learned about the pending charges against him and launched a major opposition campaign against Pashinyan, to then frame his charges as "political persecution" for being critical to the government. https://www.civilnet.am/news/2021/01/03/2020-ի-10-քրեական-գործերը/414983 https://www.evnreport.com/politics/the-political-rise-and-fall-of-tycoon-gagik-tsarukyan
Armenia will import 2250 types of products from Iran instead of Turkey, amid the 6-month ban on Turkish product imports. "This will be a good opportunity for Iranian producers. In the next step, [Armenia] will supply its required raw materials from Iran," said the chief of the Iranian trade agency. The govt had earlier met Chinese representatives to discuss the replacement of other Turkish items with Chinese ones. https://en.mehrnews.com/news/167965/Armenia-to-import-2-250-goods-from-Iran-instead-of-Turkey
border "demarcation" process continues in Syunik
The process to install Armenian and Azeri troops continues on the new borders between Armenia and Azerbaijan, in the Syunik province. The border was formerly Syunik (Armenia) - Qashatag (formerly Artsakh). Syunik's Shurnukh and Vorotan were built on the immediate internationally-recognized border, and some of them were on the Azeri side. As a result, a dozen buildings will go under Azeri control. Shurnukh village mayor complained about losing several houses and Azeris being too close. Syunik governor said border guards have been installed in areas surrounding Shurnukh. Russian and Armenian guards are placed in certain parts of this 21 km border. https://factor.am/325886.html
European Court for Human Rights has approved a petition by Armenia to implement emergency measures to require Azerbaijan to share information about the conditions of 23 POWs. "So far, such petitions were approved for 80 POWs, 18 of whom have already returned home," said Armenia's representative in Court. Armenia's HR Ombudsman Tatoyan criticized Aliyev for calling Armenian POW soldiers "terrorists" and for keeping them arrested, which delays the swap process. https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039433.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039480.html
New Years Eve memorial concert in Yerablur Pantheon:
... in the Fizuli region that went under Azeri control during the war. Azeri prosecutors launched an investigation. In turns out, some Azeri civilians visit these areas without allowing the sappers to clear the areas from landmines first. So far, 10 Azeris have died or received injuries from such explosions after the ceasefire. https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039473.html
They built the second rapid-deployment modular mini-town in Getavan, after finishing one in Stepanakert earlier. Another one will be built in Berdashen this month. The blocs will house 300 peacekeepers. They will have access to various convenience shops. https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039452.html
Russian humanitarian aid in Artsakh
Russia sent 5,000 m2 glass for window replacement, 70 tons of metal parts, 34000 bedding items, to Martuni and Martakert cities. Earlier they sent 20 mobile electricity generators to help the areas that were cut off from the main electric grid. Russian doctors have so far treated 1044 Artsakh residents with various complaints. There are medical teams that travel in rural areas to provide care, including mental health services. The doctors received New Year's gifts from the medical administrator Oleg Bagayev. https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039453.html , https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039463.html
Ara Ghazaryan from Los Angeles built the world's smallest chess and made it into the Guinness World Records book. It's 8x8 millimeter. "Ara Ghazaryan is an Armenian American artist who uses jewelry to express his art and formerly held this record title. The chess board itself is made from 18 k yellow and white gold with Armenian apricot wood and rests on a frame made of platinum, 18 k yellow gold, rubies, and diamonds. The figures measure in height from 1 mm for the pawns to 2.4 mm for the kings." Photo: https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/78603-smallest-handmade-chess-set https://factor.am/325695.html
The All Armenia Fund has transported 600 Artsakh children and their parents, residing in various provinces of Armenia, to watch performances in Yerevan's Tumanyan Puppet theater. Santa, Dzyunanush, and the Elves surprised the children with gifts in the end. The Foundation will help thousands of children by the end of January. https://armenpress.am/arm/news/1039451.html
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So, as a preface, I cuss a lot irl and that may come out here. Any grammatical errors are my own. Cast: Leela: Tiefling Bard-barian, CG, trans woman that has long made her money as a courtesan to the Guild. Jerry: Dragonborn Sorco-din, LG, Soldier background. Korpus: Half-Elf War Cleric/Ranger, CN, child of formerly powerful, now dead family (killed by assumed BBEG), self-proclaimed black market god. DM: First-timer; super permissive; allows players to explore the world at will; gold-rich, inflated economy; near-zero magic loot, but buyable enchantments; remarkably friendly dragons. World: 5e based homebrew in a world with seven islands based on the seven deadly sins. To open, Leela had to miss half of the first session, so DM made her a near-death mass huddled on an abandoned beach on the island of Envy, which the other players loaded into a cart pulled by a frog-man companion of Jerry. Jerry and Korpus come across a town populated primarily by elves, with a few half-elf slaves, and Korpus proceeds to try and intimidate a shopkeeper into selling him the entire shop for 50 gold. It doesn't work. He insists that he be allowed to roll again. it still doesn't work. Jerry lights something on fire to attempt to itimidate the shopkeeper, but he crit fails and the entire shop burns down, loot and all. They get an inn for the night, and in the morning Leela is awake. She explains how she came to be half-dead on the beach, thanks Jerry and Korpus for their help, and all decide to travel together. Korpus goes to the shopkeeper and offers to buy the now-ruined shop for 20 gold. The shopkeeper agrees. Korpus finds two fishing poles, and the group goes fishing. After catching frankly way more fish than was reasonable, the group goes back to town. they sell their fish at the inn, and Korpus announces that he has intimidated the innkeeper into selling him an unused portion of the building to build a restaurant, with gold he (as he claimed) borrowed from Leela. Leela says if she's loaning him the gold, she wants part ownership. Korpus agrees, and Leela goes on a small solo sidequest to find someone to cook in the restaurant. During her two-day absence, without the other PC's knowing about it, Korpus quietly builds an entire network of tunnels under the inn/restaurant, connected to the city sewer, using another half elf that he has taken as his slave, who knows Move Earth. Leela brings back the cook, and old halfling woman with an affinity for cats and poor eyesight. Grandma, as she calls herself, takes a shining to Jerry immediately, calling him "scaly kitty", and gives him a magic stew that restores all health and removes all ill effects. Jerry shares with Leela and Korpus, and the stew is given a two day expiry period. The following day, the group heads off for the big city. In this city is a Thieves Guild chapterhouse, an arena, some shops, and a casino. On the outskirts of the city, there is a large bay with a shipping port. Jerry goes to the port to order a ship, Korpus goes to the bar to spread rumors about the Thieves' Guild, and Leela runs off to the casino after buying all of the alchemists' potions. At the bar, Korpus is having no luck; as a newcomer, no one cares what he has to say. Jerry orders his ship, is given a seven day wait, and heads to the casino. At the casino, Leela is losing low-stakes games and drinking for free when the owner takes a liking to her. He makes suggestive comments, she tells him "You wouldn't know what to do with a girl like me", he offers her a tour, she accepts. Korpus declares he's at the casino, walks up to interrupt Leela's tour, and starts trying to schmooze the owner. Fuckbox McDashing, the owner, doesn't take kindly to having his time wasted, and has Korpus thrown out. Korpus shouts that he evaded them, DM asks him what he rolled, Korpus says he rolld a 20 in acro. DM asks for a stealth roll, and Korpus announces a 19. DM says this passes on three guards but fails on the fourth due to rolling a 20. Korpus says he has a modifier he forgot to add, bringing his total to 22. DM says he passes, and Korpus approaches Fuckbox again. He rolls to pursuade Fuckbox not to toss him out again, and succeeds. He begins a monologue about how he's an up-and-comer in the criminal underworld, working to overtake and subsequently defeat Furless, the guy that killed his family and who currently holds major power in the Thieves' Guild. Fuckbox's eyes glaze over, and he resumes his conversation with Leela, who he knows by reputation from the Guild. They end up talking business, and finish up right about when Korpus ends his monologue. Fuckbox asks him plainly what exactly he wants, and Korpus begins another monologue about the world he envisions when he takes down the Thieves' Guild and replaces it with his own system. Fuckbox, sick of his shit by now, cuts him off and says "I don't care what you have to say, I what to know what you want from me. Korpus goes off into another monologue about how, with Fuckbox's support, he could bring about a new age of profit and success for the whole world. Fuckbox chuckles lightly and invites Korpus and Leela to attend the arena fights as his guests. Upon arrival, Fuckbox walks up to the reserved viewing box, and steps up to the microphone; he announces to the crowd: "I'm happy to present to you the Nth annual Thieves' Guild Tournament; anyone may enter, only one can win!!!" Korpus uses this opportunity to, once again, monologue. (Sweet Carol, Mother of Gob, Korpus monologues a LOT) He goes on about how he will go fight in the arena, and then Fuckbox will have to agree that he's better than the Guild and support him. Fuckbox casually informs him that the arena is for hand-to-hand combat, and no armor is allowed. Korpus, level 3 at this point, takes this as a challenge. Korpus does remarkably well in his solo tournament, and returns to Fuckbox. Fuckbox is impressed, both with Korpus' success, and his ability to entirely not notice the Fuckbox is involved with the Guild and unwilling to break his loyalty. Korpus and Leela leave the arena, Jerry following behind, and begin the trek back to the first town. Upon arrival, the group arrives to find that one of the slaves is hanging from an arch in the town square by her wrists, being beaten. Three other slaves waited, bound, clearly destined for the same fate. Leela and Jerry jumped into action, stopping the townspeople from beating the girl, and making an impassioned plea that they let the slaves go. Eventualy, the townspeople agree to pay the half-elves a wage and give them days off. Following a few sessions of small skirmishes where Korpus is doing suspiciously well, and some straight RP wherein Korpus is rolling a ton of checks to build his guild, and Leela schmoozes a few dragons ito entrusting their eggs to her for safe-keeping, the group decides to leave the island. As they sail away on Jerry's ship, the party hears an explosion and the entire island is covered with foggy purple smoke. Korpus believes that this is the work of the Thieves' Guild. Jerry and Leela know that it isn't, but neither knows that the other knows. Upon arrival at the island of Greed, the group finds a town where everyone is missing their left pinky. They investigate and find a beholder, and a cult that worships it. Korpus gets a stealth attack, and nearly takes out the beholder with his custom-enchanted bow. While Jerry deals with some cultists fairly handily, Leela finishes off the beholder with a jump attack. They return to town, pronounce the people saved, and are summarily rewarded. While the guys are in town reveling in their parade, Leela goes off to explore. She finds a small village of kobolds, and convinces them that she runs a dragon daycare. They decide to accompany her, and they all return to town. the townspeople take exception to Leela bringng kobolds into town, so she sends them back to the ship. Korpus gets word that BBEG is on the island of Pride, and decides that's where we're headed next. The rest of the party, sensing some end-of-campaign vibes, wants to explore the rest of the world. Korpus asks th DM what he has to roll to go to Pride, and being new, the DM let him roll pursuasion with no saving rolls on the part of the other players. Jerry decides to go along with it, having plans of his own. So the party arrives at the island of Pride and is immediately presented with Furless. Korpus and Jerry are the first to greet him, and Jerry casually stabs him dead. Oops, turns out Furless is just a regular guy. The party goes off to the arena on Pride, and decides to join in the 3v3 tournament. The first round goes well, the second is rough, and the third nearly kills Leela but she's healed. In the finals, a new element is added; a runic ring around the arena, spelling out 'fuck u'. This spell ring prevents Korpus from opening dimension portals, and prevents healing spells from working. Suddenly, Jerry is transported out of the ring, and takes his place standing atop the VIP box. He announces that he has become a lich, and he has been amassing a horde of undead to take over the entire world; the party can join, or they can die. Korpus, with his endgame reached (Furless being dead), agrees to join. Leela also agrees to join. Campaign over. Now, postgame, Jerry is disappointed by the lack of fight from the rest of the party; Leela feels like she was railroaded by Korpus' constant insistence and the DM's permissiveness with him, she says it's bullshit that she didn't get to exlore any of her clearly relevant backstory; the DM is disappointed that Jerry and Leela are dissatisfied; Korpus is perfectly happy and refuses to accept any resposibility for whining his way into a "main character" slot, blaming the DM for allowing it. This happened a few years ago, and some of the players refuse to play together at all anymore. It isn't my own story, and I've done what I can to tell the story as impartially as possible. I don't know exactly who the horror story is here, and I'm not privvy to the private conversations between the DM and each individual player during the campaign, so I don't know what happened behind the scenes.
OBLIGATORY FILLER MATERIAL – Just take a hard left at Daeseong-dong…6
Continuing. After the third pony keg of beer was delivered, it was decided that the next few days would be spent in the conference room discussing what we thought was the best way forward. We wanted dry-erase boards so we could start taking detailed notes, even though I was well ahead of the curve in that regard. We instead ended up with some mobile elementary-school blackboards and a pile of grainy, sooty chalk. Leave it to Dr. Cliff to go into a discourse on the genesis of chalk and its economic importance. Bloody carbonate geologists. Bloody White Cliffs. We geologists need to punctuate their conversations with pictures, so these would suffice quite well. At 1700 hours, the official end to the workday was called; we’d meet here again tomorrow. I’m not certain by whom, but it was readily agreed upon. We were more or less on our own until 1000 the next day. I needed to spend some time in my room with my notes and update a number of dossiers, field notebooks, and other items I was using as a running chronicle. Several folks decided to invade one of the hotel’s restaurants for dinner. Some wanted to head to the casino, a couple wanted to get a massage, and others wanted to do what tourists are normally wont to do on the second day of being a foreigner in a foreign land. I declined invitations to dinner and other activities, as I had a long writing session in front of me. I wanted to get this all in its proper place while the memories and notes were still fresh. 30 minutes later, in my room after a 25-minute wait for the elevator; I’m updating dossiers, creating several new ones, and updating my field notebooks. Suddenly, after an hour’s work, I notice something is amiss. “I don’t have a drink or a cigar,” I said to the four walls. “This. Will. Not. Do.” I was used to Happy Hour in Russia. Happy hour is slightly different; there are no ice cubes or orange-peel twists in the vodka. Also, it lasts all day. I remedy that situation by finding and clipping a nice, oily oscuro cigar and digging the bourbon out from under my boxer-briefs in my dresser drawer. I heft the bottle and feel that it’s significantly lighter than when I left it last night. I happen to look in the trash can and spy the wrapper for a box of my festively colored Sobranie cigarettes I obtained back in Dubai. “Hmmm”, I think, “It would appear that we have some light-fingered Cho Louies or No Louises around here. I’d best guard my supplies a little more securely.” I move all my smokeables into one of my now emptied aluminum travel cases. They lock with the stoutest of combinations and it will be readily apparent if anyone is fucking with them. I move some of my best booze into the pretty much worthless in-room safe. With a deft application of duct tape, I seal the safe. It may not be the most secure spot on the planet, but if anyone tries anything troublesome, they’ll leave an immediately recognizable record of what they were up to. It’s just too obvious; they’d have to be crazy to go in after anything inside there. My money, keys, and passports are in the safe deposit box down in the lobby that the hotel supplies for visiting dignitaries. Even so, they let me keep my shit in one of them anyway. That handled, I spend another hour writing like a madman. I suddenly realize I’m tired of all this and need a diversion as well as some food and, of course, drink. 30 minutes later, I’m down in the byzantine basement tunnels of the hotel. It’s crowded with hordes of Chinse tourists, and the casino is ground zero for the incredibly loud chatter. I look in on the bowling alleys all three of them, and they’re full. The massage parlor is hopping, although I leave my name and they promise they will call over the PA when a suitable masseuse is available. Evidently, I ‘intimidate’ some of the more demure ones. I wander over to the bar, now there’s a surprise, and see it’s packed to the rafters as well. I decide to wait for a seat to open up on Mahogany Ridge when there’s some gargling over the PA and a pair of Chinese nationals leave the bar in great haste. I grab one of the two newly open seats, much to the chagrin of a couple of Oriental Unidentifiables (OU) who had their eye on them as well. “Sorry, mate”, I said, “First come, first served. It’s the capitalist way.” One of the pair grabs a seat and the other just stands there, looking annoyed unspent bullets in my direction. Forget that I’ve literally twice their size and could be an aberration as an angry American. They just order a couple of drinks, and content themselves in giving me dirty looks and probably say nasty things in their own indecipherable language about my national origin and familial heritage. As if I gave the tiniest of rodental shits. I fire up a cigar, as literally everyone else in the joint was smoking something more or less tobacco. However, there was a definite barnyard aroma, a regular Dairy Air, in the room. I think some of what was being smoked there was more bovine or equine in origin than botanical in nature. With numerous hilarious attempts at Korean, pointing at a garishly photographed drinks menu, I was finally served a cold draft house steam porter and 100 milliliters of probably ersatz ‘Russian’ vodka, vintage late last Thursday. This bartender that could at least form some of the phonemes found in American English. A few. A definite few. Since it all cost the equivalent of US$0.50, I really didn’t care. Apparently vodka helps flowers last longer when they're dying. But you can put vodka in anything and it'll make it better. Being a trained observer, I rather enjoy just sitting in any old bar, smoking my cigar, drinking my Yorshch, and watching people. I try and not be intrusive and I never eavesdrop, but I like to try and think of what strange set of circumstances brought us all here together in this place at this time. It gives me writing ideas, some of which I jot down in a notebook I always carry. It also gives me a good shot of nostalgia when I look back at something I wrote some 40 or so years ago. Yeah, old habits do die hard. I take a drag off my cigar and set it in the ashtray in front of me on the bar as I go to correct another egregious misspelling in my notebook. I have to immediately proofread what I wrote, or I’d never recall later what the fuck I was trying to convey; especially if it’s in a noisy, smoky, or murky milieu. Quicker than a bunny fucks, Unidentifiable Oriental #1 (UO #1) deftly reaches over, snags my cigar, and helps himself to a few mouthy puffs. I look at him, the empty ashtray directly in front of me, him again, and then UO #2. Since I speak no real Oriental, much less Korean, language, and my Mandarin at this point is worse than laughable; I just point to the cigar, turn out my hands and shrug my shoulders in the international “What the actual fuck, dude?” gesture. He just smiles a gappy, toothy, and snaggle-toothed at that, grin at me and makes a point of ensuring that I see him enjoying a few more drags on my own damned cigar. Not able to contain myself any further, I venture a “What the fuck, chuckles? That’s not your fucking cigar.” Like gasoline being tossed on a fire-ring full of embers, they both go unconditionally incoherently insane. Yammering, chattering, jumping up and down, and getting right into my face. They wanted me to unquestionably understand that my few words of English insulted them far more than their filching of my $20 cigar. OK, I’m pretty well trained in Hapkido; an oddly, given the present situation, hybrid Korean martial art. I’m at least 6 or 7 inches taller and who knows how many stone/kilos/pounds/Solar masses heavier than these two clowns. I could easily go all Gojira on their hapless asses and mop significant expanses of the floorboards with them. Instead, I look around for the bartender. I figured since I was keeping him well supplied with Korean won via tips, and he spoke some English as well as perhaps whatever the fuck these characters were chattering; maybe he could get to the bottom of what was happening. The bartender walks over and I ask him to ask the two unidentifiable twins why they stole my cigar. He nods in agreement and goes on in whatever the fuck dialect was being used today by the pair. “They say they wanted it. So they took it.” They ask, “What are you going to do about it?” the bartender relates. I deftly reach inside my field vest, as everyone concerned ducks and covers. I extract two fresh cigars; not a .454 Casull Magnum. I give one cigar to the bartender and one to OU#2. “With my compliments.” I pleasantly say. I was well apprised of the fact that in certain places like this, the local authorities often approach foreigners with, for the lack of a better term, ‘Agents Provocateur’. Like the Westboro Baptist “Church”, they try to get a rise out of you so you’ll lose your cool and either create a scene or take a poke at the miscreant. Then they have all the pretext they require to drag you to the local hoosegow, shake you down for every penny on your person, as well as any phones, notebooks, wallets, passports, cigars, cigarettes, etc. Basically, they goad you into a fight, then drop the thousand-pound shit-hammer when you retaliate. It’s all so parochial. So obviously clear as vodka; this elementary charade only raised a single eyebrow. I’m not going to even raise my voice over a couple of cheap cigars that neither of them noticed I slipped them instead of the premium ones I was smoking. Thus defeated, I asked the bartender to ask them if they liked the cigar. “What do you think?” I asked in cordial English, “Too tightly rolled? Not caged enough? Too green?” UO #2 slipped and said “It smells very good…” where he realizes he’s blown his cover. “Yeah, I like it too.”, I replied, “So much so, I buy my own. What are your badge numbers, boys? I will be reporting this incident to Inspector P'aeng Yeong-Hwan, the head of security for the IUPGS conference to which I was invited as special scientific consultant.” Of course, they immediately dummy up and feign illiteracy. I say loudly and very clearly, “You bastards aren’t gonna get away with this. I mean, what is going on in this country when scumsuckers like you can get away with trying to sandbag a Doctor of Geological Sciences?” I ask the bartender to translate, but alas, it was too late. They vamoosed when I turned to talk with the bartender. They left so fast, they didn’t notice me snapping their pictures with my ancient but trusty Nokia 3310, revised edition, during our little chat. Even with a mere 2-megapixel picture, I have enough to show the North Korean leaders of the project to get an identification and make known my displeasure of being treated like some commoner or buffoon. They left both my cigar and the one I gave them. The bartender tucked the cigar I gave him into his pocket and stared lustily at the two remaining on the bar. “Take’em”, I said. I sure as fuck don’t want them. “Just a clean ashtray and a refill, if you would be so kind,” I say, as pleasantly as possible, considering the situation. Both the unsmoked and my smoldering, as well as well-traveled, cigar disappear as quickly as minks rut. A clean, new ashtray, double beer and ‘vodka’ suddenly appear. “No charge, Dr. Rock”, the bartender grins, as he shoves my erstwhile high-mileage cigar between his teeth. “OK, fair enough.”, I say, “Spaseebah.”, and deposit a raft of won on the bar. The pile won’t be touched until after I leave in a few hours’ time. “Stranger in a strange land.” I muse over a couple of further beers. The call from the massage parlor never came, or it did and I couldn’t hear it over the clamor of the casino. I went up to the hotel’s Korean restaurant; had some salty soup, a sad, sad salad, and some form of funky fish, I think, for dinner. I retired that night in a slightly foul mood. I called Es then the next morning and caught her before she retired. With a 14 hour difference between us, I was getting up at 0700 and she was getting ready to hit the hay at 2100. I told her of the events of the day previous, and she was glad she wasn’t tagging along. She would have never accused the Korean geologists of being behind the times and would have probably bent the guy’s nose that swiped my cigar. Agreed, that she’d probably be unimpressed with this place. I promised her that we’d go on a holiday when I returned from all this. It would be up to her to find out ‘where,’ and I’d supply the ‘when’ when I could. Everything else was going along smoothly, more or less, on the home front, and I didn’t want to give the local listening-in federales too much to say grace over, so we said our parting admirations and rang off. Shower, shower sunriser of real vodka and citrus, a quick brush and comb, and spiff of cargo shorts and new ghastly Hawaiian shirt; 30 minutes later, back down in the restaurant for the inevitable breakfast buffet. After what some would consider breakfast and others would consider a vague attempt at nourishment, we reconvened in the conference room precisely at 1012. Nothing like precision with this group. We spend the next two days going over, in various groups, what we think would be required to set forth proper the quest for oil and gas in North Korea on track. Everyone got in on the act, and we advocated for that. We needed everyone’s input to make this happen. Or to even map a way forward to present to country officials. Those from the West on what was needed and those from the East to tell us what was available, and the combined wetware to make what needed to be done happen with what existed. It took no small amount of doing, but we secured a set of maps that covered the entire country. We were watched very closely by the shiny suit squad that we did not copy, photograph or otherwise take any extraneous information from these sheets of infamy. All other maps in the country were intentionally skewed, with errors deliberately added in to confuse “interlopers, spies, or other personas non grata”. I made a massive stink and told them that if we didn’t receive the unfuckered maps, aerial photographs and satellite imagery pronto, we’re packing up and leaving that afternoon. “We don’t have time for monks resisting the carnival. We didn’t come here to try and guess if the maps are correct or if our remedies will actually work on maps that say one thing and reality says something else entirely.” They hemmed and hawed, but as I made the announcement to all before lunch that if the real maps didn’t appear by the time we returned from tiffin, we’re gone. And we take tiffin purty durn early round these parts, buckaroo. No one was surprised as I when we returned and there were folio after folio of government-uncensored maps, photos, and imagery for our program. I guess they finally reasoned it would be a relatively good idea to begin to take us seriously. We spent one whole day just going over our field geological apparatus. They had a good idea of how to use a direction-finder compass and Jacob’s staff to measure sections. However, they were totally flummoxed by our Brunton Compasses, GPS systems, curiously referred to as ‘position finders’, notebook mapping applications, and electronic data storage and retrieval systems. Gad. It was like being back in the 1970s before PCs were a glimmer in IBM's corporate orbs. We spent the next week working to bring our less fortunate colleagues up to, well, not date, but at least up to the brink of the 21st century. We explained that plate tectonics, continental drift, and the precession of the continents was accepted geoscientific principles, not some arcane Capitalist or Socialist plot to undermine the quality of science in the east. Yep. It was that mindset we had to first conquer. I think we’ve made great headway in that direction today. The next Chautauqua session had us split up into two separate groups. We decided in a fit of Cesarean inquiry to ‘divide and conquer’. There are two distinct milieus which are able to contain economic deposits of hydrocarbons: onshore and offshore. Instead of attacking both head-on, we’d focus initially on the offshore domain. Once we had a good handle on what was going on under the East Korean Sea, the Huangai (Yellow) Sea and surreptitiously, the South Sea; we’d collaborate our findings and work to tie them in and extend them onshore. The singular Phyongnam Basin is the one large depositional, sedimentological, and structural basin in North Korea. It is filled by the Joeson and Pyeongan Supergroups of sediments, which are Cambro-Ordovician and Permocarboniferous, respectively. These are good hunting grounds for oil and gas. Could be elephant–hunting country. But before we could undertake that, we had to get ‘back to basics’. That is, we had to understand and delineate the ‘frame’ of the Korean Peninsula. In other words, we needed to figure out how and when the peninsula came into existence. South Korea’s geology is much more complex, fortunately than that found in the North. There were nasty side comments that were due to the relative development not of the geology, but of the geologists who studied each country’s geology. It was, perhaps, a mean way of characterizing the situation. But, unfortunately, it was also probably fairly accurate. The Korean Peninsula is characterized by huge massifs, which are sections of a crust that are demarcated by faults or flexures. In the movement of the crust, a massif tends to retain its internal structure while being displaced as a whole. The term also refers to a group of mountains formed by such a structure. It’s basically one huge, semi-resilient rock. The basement rocks of the Korean Peninsula consist of high-grade gneiss and schist, Paleoproterozoic Precambrian massifs, which formed in the early stage of Earth’s history. These rocks are unconformably overlain by metasedimentary rocks; schist, quartzite, marble, calcsilicate, and amphibolite, of the Middle to Late Proterozoic. The Korean Peninsula is floored by a collation of about five of these huge Precambrian massifs that acted like ‘microplates’ during the aggregation of the peninsula. These massifs consist of thick dolostone, metavolcanics, and schist, which were intruded by Paleoproterozoic granites. These Paleoproterozoic metasedimentary and granitic rocks underwent repeated intracrustal differentiation, followed by the events of cratonization, i.e., regional metamorphism and igneous activity, at 1.9-1.8 Ga. Sediments deposited in the peripheral basins during the Mesoproterozoic and Neoproterozoic lead to stabilization as the basement of the peninsula. These early depositional basins formed the locus of deposition that continued on from the Proterozoic through the Phanerozoic. There are at least three, perhaps four, depositional basins in the south which are delimited by structural zones, such as the South Korean Tectonic Line (SKTL), a huge zone of continental transform faults and forms the basis of boundary demarcation between the Okcheon and Taebaeksan basins. The boundary between the Seochangri Formation of the Okcheon Basin and the Joseon Supergroup of the Taebaeksan Basin in the Bonghwajae area is a thrust (or reverse‐slip shear zone). This thrust is presumably a relay structure (i.e. a restraining bend) between two segments of a continental transform fault (the South Korean Tectonic Line or SKTL), along which the Okcheon Basin of the South China Craton was juxtaposed against the Taebaeksan Basin of the North China Craton during the Permian–Triassic suturing of the two cratons. In the late Proterozoic, sedimentation was initiated in basins of the Korean Peninsula, accompanied by deposition of siliciclastic and volcaniclastic sediments as well as carbonates. The massifs were submerged in the Early Paleozoic during a greenhouse period, forming a shallow marine platform and associated environments. The Cambrian-Ordovician succession unconformably overlies Precambrian granite gneiss. It consists of mixed carbonate-siliciclastic rocks of sandstone, shale, and shallow-marine carbonates. Sedimentation was initiated in the Early Cambrian with a global rise in sea level on the stable craton of the Sino-Korean Block. There was a major break in sedimentation during the Silurian and Devonian periods in the entire platform. During the Carboniferous to early Triassic, sedimentation was resumed in coastal plain and swamp environments with progradation of deltas. Major tectonic events were initiated in the Triassic when the South China Block collided with the Sino-Korean Block. The eastern part of the Sino-Korean Block rotated clockwise and moved southward relative to the South China Block along the SKTL. In the Middle-Late Jurassic, orthogonal subduction of the paleo-Pacific plate under the Asian continent caused compression and thrust deformation. A number of piggyback basins formed along the thrust faults in the east of the SKTL. At the same time, the entire peninsula was prevailed by granite batholiths, especially along the northeast-southwest-trending tectonic belt. In the Cretaceous Period, the paleo-Pacific Plate subducted northward under the Asian continent, forming numerous extensional (left-lateral strike-slip) basins in the southern part of the peninsula and the Yellow Sea. A large back-arc basin was initiated in the southeastern part. In the Paleogene, both the volcanic arc and the back-arc basin ceased to develop, as volcanic activities shifted eastward, accompanied by a rollback of the subduction of the Pacific plate. In the Miocene, pull-apart (right-lateral) basins formed in the eastern continental margin. The Korea Plateau experienced continental rifting accompanied by extensive volcanism during the extensional opening of the southern offshore basin. It subsided more than 1000 m below sea level. So, as South Korea was mix- mastered by a half-a-billion years’ worth of structural tectonism, which created several depositional basins quite capable of generating and storing economic quantities of oil and gas, the scene to the north was much more quiescent. The North was composed, from south to north, of the relict Imjingang Belt, which was an old back-arc basin between the Gyeonggi Massif to the south and the Nagrim Massif to the north. It is a paleo-subduction zone, full of volcanics, volcaniclastics and other non-hydrocarbon bearing rocks. It was mashed and metamorphosed, and basically forms a convenient boundary between the complex geology of the South and the more relaxed geology of the North. Heading north, we come across the Pyeongnam Basin, the only North Korean basin thus far defined that could contain hydrocarbons. Further north is the huge Nangrim Massif. It’s a huge block of igneous and metamorphic rocks that weather very nicely and form some spectacular scenery, but from an oil and gas economic outlook are worthless. Offshore North Korea, there are two possible petroliferous basins. The offshore West Korea Bay Basin and East Sea Basin, along with five onshore basins could be offering exploration potential. At least ten exploration wells have been drilled in the West Sea, with some showing “good oil shows” along with the identification of a number of potential reservoirs. The West Sea potentially has oil and has reportedly flowed oil at reasonable rates from at least two exploration wells when they were drilled and tested in the 1980s. Meanwhile, the East Sea has seen Russian exploration efforts previously including the drilling of two wells, both of which reportedly encountered encouraging shows of oil and gas. Onshore, there has been little exploration to date, apart from efforts by the Korean Oil Exploration Corporation and also recently by Mongolia’s HBOil JSC (HBO). Among five main onshore sedimentary sub-basins, the largest is south of the capital; while unconfirmed reports point to a 1-trillion-cubic-foot (tcf) discovery in 2002. Historically DPRK was thought to consist of five under-explored geological basins, the • Pyongyang, • Zaeryong, • Anju-Onchon, • Gilju-Myongchon and • Sinuiju, Basins. These basins are all located more or less along the coast, rather than inland. This also points to a certain degree of geological aptitude; as it’s much easier to explore along the more populated coast than it is to venture inland. There may be more hiding in the interior of the country, it’s just that no one’s looked as of yet. That’s difficult. Exploring along the coast is much easier. With 3 basins supposedly proven to have working petroleum systems; 22 wells have been drilled and the majority are said to have encountered hydrocarbons with some wells testing production at 75 barrels of oil per day of light sweet crude oil. This has yet to be documented or confirmed by the Korea Oil Exploration Corp (KOEC), North Korea’s state-run oil company. Yeah, our work was definitely cut out for us. It was decided that a series of excursions offshore in one of the few remaining seaworthy, which was a real judgment call, KOEC seismic boats would be appropriate. The one we received use of was an old, decommissioned Chamsuri-class patrol boat, one Chamsuri-215(참수리-215), PKMR-215 in particular. It had been basically stripped to the gunwales and completely retrofitted as a seismic acquisition and recording vessel. It had been renamed: “조선 민주주의 인민 공화국 영광” or “Glory of Democratic People's Republic of Korea Science”. In reality, it was an aging rust-bucket piece of shit that might have possibly seen better days but wasn’t letting on. All the military nonsense, except the powder magazine, had been removed and a new superstructure consisting of slap-dash hunks of poorly-welded low-carbon, cold-rolled steel were erected to form a pilothouse in the area where the bridge once existed. They also built, extra haphazardly, a shooter’s room, galley, cold and wet storage areas, recording room, and storage of tapes and the extra bits and pieces needed for a none-too-extended stay on the sea. It was, being charitable, almost utilitarian. They could not make their own water, so trip times were limited to about three days in length. Besides, they didn’t really have a hot galley, so it was cold, canned Chinese chow for the next 72 hours. They had a couple of fairly sturdy yardarms with heavy winches to handle the towed seismic arrays of geophones, which were of ancient heritage and showed it. These were probably appropriated back in the 80s or perhaps earlier when they first thought about opening their waters for seismic exploration. They ‘borrowed’ most of the sensing and recording equipment back then from oilfield service companies and simply forgot to return it once finished. Since they burned that bridge so glowingly, they couldn’t get parts nor service when things failed. Being delicate seismic sensing and recording equipment, fail they did. So, we had to use what was leftover, or what DPRK industries could cobble together, or what could be salvaged from salt-water drenched recording equipment that hadn’t been too heavily cared for over the span of the last 50 years. We weren’t terribly optimistic. So, we load the good ship ‘Rorrypop’, as Viv christened the thing, and head out to the wilds of the Yellow Sea. It was an abbreviated foreign crew, as there was really nothing other than upchuck and curse me soundly for insisting the non-geophysical scientists came along. Aboard were the two geophysicists, naturally; Volna and Activ. I was there stick-handling the logistics and hoping to help out with the geophysical signal source explosives. Morse and Cliff, the two other geologists accompanied us on the trip, and Dax decided to go with me as he figured I’d have access to the best booze no matter where we went. The remainder of the team, the geochemists, Erlan and Ivan, the geomechanic, Iskren, the PT, Joon, and the two REs, Viv and Grako, remained behind onshore at the hotel. They set forth cataloging what data was available; from what sources, it’s vintage, veracity, and usefulness. Augean tasks, both. Not as fecaliferous as Hercules’ jobs, but still, they held their own rations of shit for each sub-team. Heading seaward, the Yellow Sea extends by about 960 km (600 mi) from north to south and about 700 km (430 mi) from east to west; it has an area of approximately 380,000 km2 (150,000 mi2) and a volume of about 17,000 km3 (4,100 mi3). Its depth is only 44 m (144 ft) on average, with a maximum of 152 m (499 ft). The sea is a flooded section of the continental shelf that formed during the Late Pleistocene (some 10,000 years ago) as sea levels rose 120 m (390 ft) to their current levels. The depth gradually increases from north to south. The sea bottom and shores are dominated by sand and silt brought by the rivers through the Bohai Sea and the Yalu River. These deposits, together with sand storms are responsible for the yellowish color of the water referenced in the sea's name. Being shallow, the Yellow Sea is more perturbed by the frequent seasonal storms of the region. The area has cold, dry winters with strong northerly monsoons blowing from late November to April. I was told that the summers are wet and warm with frequent typhoons between June and October; but now all we had to contend with were swelling seas, spraying saltwater, waggling waves, and a shivering, shimmying ship. All the navigation, communications and other shiply duties were being handled by both members of the DPRK Coast Guard Auxiliary, mostly older guys who were of great and high humorous jest; and an actual pleasure to be around. They were like their scientific cadre on this cruise, basically a political ‘give a shit’ attitude, and a desire to get the job done, smoke the American’s cigars and drink as much as we could get away with. The scientific portion of the cruise was being undertaken by students of the various universities and members of the North Korean national oil company. The demeanors of these characters ranged from extremely earnest and stringently North Korean politically correct in the students and academicians, to a more relaxed ‘yeah, let’s just get the fucking job done so we can have a lot of drinks’ sort of view of the older members of the DPRK scientific team. It was a fun admixture of cultures, ages, professions, and behaviors. Oh, forgive me for forgetting to mention our ‘guides’, or handlers. They were also chosen, nay, ordered to come along. Landlubbers all, they were less than thrilled with the assignment and inevitable seasickness; which seemed endemic to those of Oriental extraction on the cruise. However, our guides did enjoy drinking. As we learned that alcohol is a central part of Korean culture, and they encouraged us to socialize with them when the time was appropriate. Or, not appropriate, as I was being denounced by one of the geophysical students after only a few hours into our very first day. Hell, we weren’t even in the Yellow Sea proper. We started here at Pyongyang, down the Taedong River, over the Giva Dam, through Pushover, across Shmoeland, to the stronghold of Shmoe; into the very belly of the frothing Yellow Sea. Most everyone, other than the foreign elements on board, were either making the trip in the bowels of the ship; nursing and cursing seasickness; or by rail, doing exactly the same thing. “Chum it over the side, ya’ blinkered mucker!”, I admonished one bottle-greenish national. “This ain’t the Captain‘s mess, Chuckles. You have to clean up your own spew!” I was reveling in getting back out on the water and regaining my sea legs. I never get seasick. Never. Ever. Be it a seismic vessel in the heaving Arctic Ocean, a pirogue in the swamps of Louisiana, my cousin’s fishin’ johnboat back in northern Baja Canada, a US nuclear submarine under the permanent pack ice of the North Pole, or VLCC in the Straits of Somaliland; I just don’t get seasick. Airsick? Nah. Carsick? Nope. Ready to puke in a Hind-20 over the Caspian Sea during a strong local thunderstorm? Close, but no cigar. So, I’m doing a Titanic scene recreation. Up in the very bow of the craft, standing in stark defiance of the gusting winds and blowing salt spray, smoking a huge cigar, and totting out of one of my emergency flasks while trying to hang on to my Stetson. I am also endeavoring to remain upright, field vest and really, really ghastly Hawaiian shirt billowing in the breeze. I’m not certain if it was the cigar smoke, the wind-whipped beard, and hair, the give a fuck attitude, or the flapping of the Hawaiian shirt to which the little local geophysicist objected. But he was pissed. Olive-green with seasickness, rubber-kneed but still standing a good social-distance away, reading me the riot act in high-pitched Korean. As I usually do in such delicate situations, I just smile and wave. Show them I’m mostly harmless and they either cool down or get pissed off even more and stomp off in disgust. Either one was a winning situation for me in my book. So, I return to doing my ship’s figurehead imitation and revel in the wind, spray, and feeling of really being booming. Sure, some might complain of the cold, but not me, the sting of the salt-spray or the windburn; but I eschew what most people enjoy as ‘normal weather’. I live for pushing the boundaries. I love rough weather and situations that thrust the edge of the envelope further past normalcy. Besides, we were still in sight of land. Hell, if everything went south at this very minute, one could practically walk back to shore. I can hardly wait to see what these wigglers will do if a night storm comes up when were 100 or more kilometers from land. The boat’s thrumming heavily from both the thrust of the Soviet-era diesel engines and the craft’s bludgeoning its way through the waves. Most hull designs are so the ship will ‘cut’ through the surface waters. This craft’s flattened trihedral hull design didn’t so much ‘cut’, as ‘slam’ it’s way through. The boat would then crash up one side and smash down the other of each large wave we encountered. The boat would shudder whole, adding a new note of resonance along with the monotonous one-note song of the aged Russian diesels. The spray would fly, the boat would convulse, time would seem to freeze until we bashed into the next wave. The captain of the vessel took his orders very seriously. “Get to coordinates XXX and YYY by the most expedient means possible.” If that meant charging, full-throttle into the teeth of the oncoming monsoon-force wind while we were traversing the worst kelp jungle I’ve seen this side of the Sargasso Sea; well, piss on it, full steam ahead. “Fuck it”, I thought, “Not my pony, not my show. Let’s see how this plays out.” While I light a new cigar and search for Emergency Flask #2. After I’d been upbraided by the geophysical student for transgressions still unknown, Cliff and Dax wander out to ask me what the hell I was up to. “Have you gone completely barmy?”, Cliff asked. “It’s a full gale out here and you’re standing in the teeth of it like it was a warm, sunny Sunday in Piccadilly.” “Nope, not at all”, I replied, “Just reveling in the delights of an angry atmosphere.” “He’s nuts, I told you”, Dax smirked, “He’d go anywhere and do anything to have a cigar.” “Not just a cigar, me old mucker”, I smiled and waved my second emergency flack under his nose. “Figures”, they both respond in unison. Dax departs and returns mere seconds later with paper Dixie-style cups he liberated from the ship’s one head. We are going to do our very best to extend the lifetime of the onboard water supply for our scientific and military friends. I pour them each a cup full. “Whoa, Doc”, that’s gotta be 100 milliliters!” Cliff objects. “As the Siberian saying goes: One hundred versts, roughly a hundred miles, is no distance. A hundred rubles isn't worthwhile money. And a hundred grams of vodka just makes you thirsty. Prosit!” I say in reply. We retire to the overhang on the fantail of the boat. It’s a sunshade and keeps the worst of the weather out for the lightweights on the cruise. I decided we’d withdraw there to keep these Dominionites out of the worst of the wind and sea spray. “Rock”, Cliff notes, “You are a complete throwback. You do not belong here in the 21st century. You need to find a way back to the Calabrian and ride herd on the continental Neanderthals. Give them the gift of distilling and tobacco agriculture, and you’d reframe the world.” Dax agrees, but notes if I do find a way back, he and Cliff would be selected against. “Good point”, Cliff agrees. “Rock, stay here. We need your expertise now more than ever. Plus your ready supply of strong drink and cigars.” “Glad to know that I’m truly appreciated around these parts.” I chuckled slightly acridly. “Ah, Rock. Buck up. You know we’re only takin’ a piss.” Cliff says. “Aim it starboard. Don’t want it blowin’ all over the seismic gear”, I reply, laughingly. The trip continued, and I found a not-bolted-to-the-deck chair and moved it outside under the shade back by the boat’s fantail. I refreshed my emergency flasks and replenished my cigar supply. I’m not about to sit inside and listen to the wails and gnashing of teeth of the landlubber crowd, the patter and timor of the geophysical throng as they titter and argue about array design, nor the military hut-hutting all over the fucking boat. A couple of times, one or more of our ‘handlers’ would venture out as I had the only supply of readily available smokeables and drinkables. Oh, we had food, lots of beer, soju, some knock-off vodka, and some of that faux homebrew bourbon for later once the workday was declared over; but for now, I was the one and only dispensary. We’d have some random chats while they screwed up their courage to ask me for a smoke or a tot of drink. I brought several bundles of really cheap-ass cigars for just such occasions; besides, I figured one of my Camacho triple-maduros would have them chumming for the remainder of the trip. I had also many, many cartons of Sobranie pastel-colored cigarettes, and many more cartons of knock-off Marlboros I bought at the duty-free when we hit town. It was chucklingly funny to see these harsh, military, no-nonsense characters walking their duty beats smoking pastel green, lavender, and mauve cigarettes. We got bogged down a couple of times when one or more of the ship’s twin screws fouled with kelp as we tried to put some distance between us and the shore. Each time, one really dejected low-ranking young Coast Guard character would go over the side with a rope around his waist and a knife in his hand to free the props. I was going to object as this was moronically dangerous; but, again, not my pony, not my show. This called for full proper tethering and SCUBA gear. They had neither aboard. Welcome to the wonders of a centrally planned economy. To be continued.
Album of the Year #20: Lil B - The Hunchback of BasedGod
(Note: This review exceeds Reddit’s 40,000 character limit for text posts so three additional comments are posted in this thread with the rest of the review. Sorting comments by “old” will bring them up for you in order.)
EPISODE I: THE HUNCHED BACK MENACE
Welcome to Old BasedWorld Hurried crowds, sparse synths and ringing cathedral bells in the streets of Old BasedWorld set the scene for our journey. High above the town in the Old BasedWorld Cathedral, a young man with a hunched back dreams of a brighter tomorrow.
Staring Out My Window “The only way you could really feel this pain is from the BasedGod” – From this opening line along with the somber instrumental accompanying it Lil B makes it clear that this project will be different from the hyphy material he’d been releasing since Black Ken. The BasedGod’s stirring musical backdrop allows Brandon to reminisce on the times he spent as a troubled youth staring out the windows of Old BasedWorld’s Cathedral (as pictured on the album cover), dreaming of a normal life with the rest of the citizens across the bridge in San Francisco New BasedWorld.
The Many Sides of a Genius Using a compilation of voicemails taken directly from Old BasedWorld’s only working phone, Lil B uses these messages to convey his own message. The people leaving these voicemails were clearly important people in Brandon’s life and, one could say, are some of the “sides of genius” that helped him develop into the man he is today. It continues the album’s narrative of a brilliant soul whose talent and ambition are unnoticed by the outside world, with only those who are closest to him recognizing the genius within.
Ain’t Gon Pick Up One of the people leaving a voicemail on “The Many Sides of a Genius” mentioned how Lil B never picks up his phone, so it’s only appropriate that the next song has B discussing why he chooses not to answer the phone in Old BasedWorld’s Cathedral. It also ties back in to the theme of unrecognized talent, with Brandon stating in the chorus “I ain’t gon pick up, nobody gives a fuck so I don’t give a fuck”. References to stomach pains and Crohn’s disease further highlight how B is feeling “sick to [his] stomach” of being disrespected: by the end of the song, the listener fully understands why Lil B wouldn’t be interested in picking up his phone.
Hunchback of BasedGod One of the album’s great conceptual triumphs. Lil B states from the jump that this song is meant to be a set of instructions for the Hunchback of BasedGod for his eventual descent from his perch back into the town of Old BasedWorld and beyond. It’s still unclear whether or not Lil B himself is the Hunchback, the BasedGod, the Hunchback of BasedGod, or none of the above: the abstractness allows the listener to form their own perceptions and create their own story. Again, there’s a continuation of themes from the previous songs, with further references to stomach pains and issues of self-worth and meaninglessness coming from Lil B: with so much pain in this world, is it even worth it for the Hunchback to enter society? By the end of the song, Brandon affirms that it is, stating, “Do it and don’t just watch/ Step in the game and have fun/ We all townspeople, we one/”. As such, the Hunchback leaves the cathedral, passing through the cobblestone streets of Old BasedWorld while hushed onlookers stare silently, as he ventures out towards New BasedWorld.
Berkeley San Francisco Its the BasedGod This song is delivered from the perspective of the Hunchback, as revealed in the first line of the first verse: “I got the hunched back from all the depression”. Themes of struggle from the previous tracks reemerge, but you get the sense that the Hunchback is beginning to build up his self-esteem, boasting how he refuses to conform to the looks and expectations of the other townsfolk. He also seems to have gotten past the lack of recognition that was hindering him on “The Many Sides of a Genius” and “Ain’t Gon Pick Up”, as he proudly exclaims, “Who cares if I’m famous?” This gives the Hunchback the confidence to finally travel across the bridge he so often observed from his cathedral window. The townspeople are stunned: the Golden Gate BasedWorld Bridge had been badly damaged and decayed for decades, with no one daring to cross in the fears that it would collapse. But the Hunchback’s persistence leads him to make it across unscathed.
Outer Mission Music With his feet firmly set in New BasedWorld, the Hunchback visits the colony of Outer Mission, a tight-knit community of New BasedWorld inhabitants who are unsure of how to react to their visitor. Lil B spends much of this track describing his interactions with the colony’s locals, which include Justin Timberlake, Alex Rodriguez, and Lionel Messi as tribe members. He also manages to make the situation surrounding the identities of his disparate personalities even more confusing, stating, “Lil B, I’ve seen him in public/ Is that the Hunchback of BasedGod, or is that the BasedGod? It’s BasedGod/” Will we ever know the difference?
Wake Up Get High Go Back to Sleep In spite of a renewed sense of confidence brought upon by his decision to leave his old life behind, not all is perfect in the Hunchback’s mind. On this joint (pun intended) he harkens back to his days in the cathedral, where he would spend his mornings smoking heavy doses of marijuana in order to numb the pain of his seclusion, often to the point of losing consciousness. It’s also worth noting that the only weed that grows naturally in Old BasedWorld is mids, so the Hunchback would need to smoke a significant amount to achieve the desired effect.
Video Game That I Still Play The irony in the title of this song is that the “video game” the BasedGod is referencing here is in fact a metaphor for his own life’s journey. As he so aptly states during the chorus: “My life is like a video game/ It’s been so weird, but I still play”. The fact of the matter is, Lil B could have chosen to rage quit this game of life long ago, but his perseverance has brought him to a new place of inner peace within the confines of New BasedWorld, even if the townsfolk are still unsure of how to respond to their new neighbor.
I Rather Die Then Go Home At the end of the previous song, the Hunchback makes reference to an incident where he visited the Café Au Coquelet, a boutique restaurant in New BasedWorld. Upon his arrival, he received a similar reaction to those he used to receive in his homeland: “I go to restaurants, people stop smiling”. While some of the townspeople have begun to appreciate his presence, many of the other New BasedWorld residents still recognize his outsider status and continue to shun him as a result. This song is B’s response, with a firm affirmation that he would rather die than have to go back to the life of isolation he led in the Old BasedWorld Cathedral, where he wasn’t really living life to begin with. That said, the song’s mistitling of based comrade The-Dream’s original line of “I’d rather die than go home” as “I rather die then go home” leaves the Hunchback’s true intentions up for interpretation.
Crying in the Club After finishing a five-course meal at the boutique, B ventures out to the party district of New BasedWorld, where he surprisingly gets admitted to one of the most exclusive night clubs in the land. As he observes the scene, the crushing reality of the differences between himself and the other clubgoers becomes apparent. A single tear is shed, followed by another, and another, until the BasedGod is in a state of full-blown emotional distress. In spite of his condition, he makes it known that he isn’t ashamed of wearing his heart on his sleeve, openly admitting in the chorus: “I don’t really care if I hurt myself, I don’t really care who sees”. This unyielding display of raw emotion brings the music and dancing to a halt. All eyes are now fixated on the strange being with the tear-stained T-shirt and the disfigured spine. He lets out a desperate plea: “I just want a hug…” To the surprise of the Hunchback, the residents of New BasedWorld collectively embrace him, looking past his outer deformities to recognize the beautiful soul that exists within. Historians would later acknowledge this moment as the primary catalyst for the BasedWorld Revolution™.
EPISODE II: THE COLD WARS
Voyage to Berkeley California Meanwhile, down in the town of Old BasedWorld, the townsfolk slept restlessly, their dreams invaded by shadowy fake based figures digging away at their souls. Every day, people would wake and stare at the Old BasedWorld Cathedral. Why was the Hunchback not ringing the bells that had kept the evil spirits of the fake based realm out of their lives? It was then they realized that the Hunchback had crossed the sacred bridge and ventured to New BasedWorld. Frantic to reconcile with the gatekeeper they had long taken for granted, a group of the townspeople decide to bravely seek out the BasedGod in the hopes that he will return. However, they recognize that crossing the BasedWorld Bridge is something no mortal man is capable of doing and living to tell the tale. Using a secret map rumored to have been drawn up by Captain 66 himself, a group of citizens board a modest ship to cross the San Francisco BasedWorld Bay on a warm summer’s eve. Will they survive? Only time will tell.
Across the Sea And here, ladies and gentlemen, we are presented with the greatest plot twist this side of the Fingerpoke of Doom: It turns out Lil B is not actually the Hunchback and/or the BasedGod after all.
Indeed, unbeknownst to the townspeople (who themselves had just assumed all three entities were combined as one person), Lil B has remained in BasedWorld all along in disguise. About halfway into their journey across the Bay, Lil B’s resentment towards his shipmates and their longing for the Hunchback’s return gets the best of him, and the violent persona exhibited on tracks like “Murder Rate” and “Domestic Violence Case” overtakes Lil B’s natural pacifist tendencies. In a fit of rage, he attacks them, “knocking them off the boat” into the shark-infested waters and keeping all of the remaining LifeVests to himself. B himself recognizes the consequences of his actions, ending the song by saying, “This darkness… It’s scary.” Nonetheless, he refuses to be stopped in his mission to visit New BasedWorld and confront the Hunchback all on his own.
Where Is the Potion Having arrived on the shores of New BasedWorld, Lil B ventures into town. Knowing that the only way to find the elusive Hunchback is through the townspeople who may have caught a glimpse of him, he travels to the aforementioned nightclub, with floors still drenched in the BasedGod’s tears from earlier, asking, “Where is the potion?” The response he’s given comes in the form of several bottles of liquor, which quickly dispel any notions of anxiety or self-doubt that may have stopped Lil B from completing his mission. A few of the club’s premium members willingly show him the spots around town where they had spotted the Hunchback, but any further clues of his whereabouts are hard to come by. Before they know it, they find themselves at one of the many riverbanks in New BasedWorld, where a celebration of the BasedGod’s glory is in full swing.
Riverdance This instrumental is what Lil B and the clubgoers heard as they made their way to the bank of the river. Speaking with more of the natives, Lil B learns more of the Hunchback’s travels and experiences in New BasedWorld and begins to put the pieces together in his mind for where the BasedGod may be headed next.
Wolves and Snakes As Lil B continues to plot his course, the BasedGod, who has just finished eating a salad on his way to the colony of Chaddick, senses a disturbance in the Based Force, feeling as though him and his hunched back may be in grave danger. He ponders on the wolves and the snakes that he was forced to deal with in his past life and reflects on the growth he’s experienced since leaving the dreaded, darkened halls of the Cathedral. In spite of this, he can’t help but shake the feeling that, like in the proverbial rear-view mirror, one of these wolves and/or snakes may be closer than they appear…
Meeting on UC Berkeley Campus Today Undeterred, the Hunchback makes his way to UC Berkeley, New BasedWorld’s sole institution of higher learning. After giving a spirited 90 minute lecture on the power of positivity (modeled after previous lectures at such high class institutions as NYU,Carnegie Mellon and Princeton), the BasedGod is greeted by a mass of adoring students at the university. The male students beg for the BasedGod to fuck their bitches, and said bitches are more than willing to oblige. In a grand spectacle, the Hunchback has consensual sex with all 1,000 of the college’s female attendees while this instrumental blares out of speakers across the campus, being awarded with a trophy as a result of his success.
Artistic or Autistic Elsewhere in New BasedWorld, Lil B attempts to strategize his next move. However, planning the escapade is made difficult thanks to B’s second most potent Internet distraction after his Twitter feed: Reddit. Going through a series of faked based comments on the hiphopheads subreddit, Lil B is particularly struck by a comment suggesting that he may in fact be suffering from the neurological disorder autism. The assertion is an eye-opening moment for him: after all, the elevated levels of lead found in Old BasedWorld’s drinking water had been a concern amongst the town’s scientists for years, and his own behaviors and thought patterns seemed to align relatively well with the common symptoms of the condition. After a brief moment of solemnity, Lil B realizes that his immaculate catalog of music has been made possible because of who he is, and if he is autistic, it is an essential component of his artistic output. This song is the result of this revelation.
Free 03 Our story continues as the BasedGod chooses to use his newfound fame and glory to give back to the New BasedWorld community. He begins volunteering at the New BasedWorld Penitentiary, espousing his worldview and giving advice to the inmates on how to make positive contributions to society after they have served their time. One particular inmate catches his eye: a fellow hip hop artist named 03 Greedo, who was arrested a few years earlier in a drug trafficking scheme. The Hunchback’s conversations with the young man have a profound impact on him, and in the weeks and months to come, Greedo becomes the model prisoner for other inmates to aspire to be, with intentions of joining the ministry upon his release. The BasedGod, proud of what he was able to accomplish, promises to dedicate a song on his new 50 song mixtape to Greedo.
Rhode Island Rhode Island, officially the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is the smallest U.S. state by area, the seventh least populous, but is also the second most densely populated. Rhode Island is bordered by Connecticut to the west, Massachusetts to the north and east, and the Atlantic Ocean to the south via Rhode Island Sound and Block Island Sound. It also shares a small maritime border with New York. Providence is the state capital and most populous city in Rhode Island.
As Rhode Island is located on the opposite side of the continent from Old and New BasedWorld, it has nothing to do with this story other than this brief mention of its existence.
I’m Depressed Again While the Hunchback is continuing to make great strides in improving the lives of the people in New BasedWorld, he continues to be fazed by an ever-growing sense of something troubling being on the horizon. A dark evil is emerging that he cannot foresee, and he worries that by the time he learns what this evil may be, it will be too late. This sends the BasedGod back into a spiraling depression, one not felt since the last day he had spent alone in the cathedral. He warns his closest confidants of the impending doom, saying, “Real talk… Feel it through your heart. Feel it through the spirit. You can feel it through the dark, cold as ever.”
Café Au Coquelet At the same time as the Hunchback is experiencing this sense of dread, Lil B has made his way to Café Au Coquelet, one of the first spots in New BasedWorld that was graced by the power and the glory of the BasedGod. Lil B immediately detects the Hunchback’s prior presence in the vicinity: all of the restaurant’s guests are acting unusually positive and based towards one another, and the only dish that anyone has ordered over the past week has been the clams casino. Lil B also recognizes that the music playing in the background of the restaurant (the instrumental that is this song) was created by the BasedGod. Enraged, he stands up on the restaurant tables and begins to lambast the townsfolk for having fallen for the lies and deceit of a false prophet. He dictates a new philosophy, beginning by disposing of the food everybody has already ordered and teaching them how to cook for themselves. Before long, the entire restaurant is cooking to “Like a Martian”. A growing sect of New BasedWorld begins to emerge in objection to the Hunchback’s teachings, with Lil B and the swag movement as their new leader.
Downtown Berkeley Protest Back in the colony of Berkeley, the BasedGod is gathering his followers together for a celebration of optimism and goodwill unto others. His new instrumental track plays as the Hunchback’s followers enjoy the festivities. It is at this moment that the BasedGod feels a searing pain encompass his entire being, and he recognizes that this is the moment he has been fearing for the past few weeks: the evil has arrived. A mass of residents from the other New BasedWorld colonies have descended upon the party with torches and handguns. Dressed in pink shirts, tiny pants and Vans sneakers, they march to the center of the crowd in unison, yelling nonsensical phrases such as “Figaro!” and “Martha Stewart!” as the frightened followers of the Hunchback look on. At the front of the mob is the leader, the enigmatic Lil B. He flashes a slight smile at the BasedGod, who stares directly back into the eyes of his former student. As the crowd of pretty residents begin to hurl insults and grievances towards the based residents, Lil B raises one hand, and the noise stops. Then, he begins to walk away. B’s worshipers follow him out of the city square in silent unison. Many of the Hunchback’s flock wonder if this is the end of the madness. However, the BasedGod knows deep down inside that this is just the beginning.
EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE BITCH
Bring the BasedGod and Lil B Gifts This is a Cold War, and we know what each side is fighting for. The New BasedWorld citizens have been divided into an even split, with half of the townsfolk (now calling themselves the “Task Force”) following the ways of the Hunchback and the other half (now calling themselves the “Bitch Mob”) committing themselves to the teachings of Lil B. In a frantic attempt to prove the superiority of one leader over the other, the townspeople begin to bestow luxurious gifts and rewards upon their idols in an attempt to make one appear more grandiose than the other. Lil B relishes in his newfound fame, gladly accepting a plethora of PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360 games from his fans, along with a fully registered copy of FL Studio to allow him to produce beats on the same level as the BasedGod. Meanwhile, on the other side of the village, the Hunchback seems uncomfortable embracing his new role as a worshipped deity. Having become accustomed to people ignoring him or being flat-out disgusted by his appearance, the adjustment to now becoming the leader of thousands of men is one that is not made easily.
Body Shaming The opposing sides of New BasedWorld’s population quickly transition from honoring their respective leaders to creating smear campaigns against the opposition. One of the Bitch Mob’s most talented computer hackers manages to secure nude photographs of the Hunchback and distribute them online, highlighting the embarrassing weight gain that the BasedGod has endured over the past 5 years. The Hunchback is at first distraught upon hearing the news: “Why are they body shaming me? Why would they say all these mean things?” It is only when the BasedGod taps into his creamy center, where all the gooey happy-lovin' goo sits that allows him to be the nicest, most compassionate person he’s ever been, that he’s able to let the world know that he will not fall down so easy. He releases this song on his MySpace as a rebuttal, saying, “There's no reason to bully people and make fun of folks”. The Task Force immediately lauds the song as the perfect response to the scandal, while the Bitch Mob lashes out at the lack of trap drums and celebrity-based adlibs.
Stopped Talkin’ But I Still Rap “So self-conscious, you feel me?”: Despite the approval of his comrades, the BasedGod is unable to shake the ever-persistent sense of self-hatred that is being exacerbated by the actions of the Bitch Mob. He feels his mind regressing to a prior state of fear and insecurity akin to that of his days spent in isolation in the Cathedral. Deep inside, the Hunchback finds himself in the midst of an existential crisis: how can one speak on the benefits of positivity and self-love when one does not truly love thyself? What would the consequences be of allowing this negativity to manifest itself in real time? Surely, an admission of hopelessness would spell defeat for the Task Force, allowing Lil B and his army of pretty townsfolk to rule the land for all eternity. But it would also be hypocritical for the BasedGod to continue to preach the Gospel of Based when his mind is not in a based state of being. In a move that would prove to be one of the most shocking of the Cold War, the Hunchback gathers his followers in the town square to announce that he will be taking an oath of silence until peace can be found between the two factions of New BasedWorld, capping off his decree with the debut of his ‘final’ song, “Stopped Talkin’ But I Still Rap”. The crowd gasps and devolves into hysteria, with thousands pleading for the Hunchback to reconsider, rightly worried over what would become of the based movement without the voice of its sole originator. But the BasedGod is persistent. He silently walks through the crowd, hugging each of his based brethren (and consensually face-fucking some of the females) before departing, possibly for good. Some time after midnight, he successfully crosses the Based Bridge and returns to Old BasedWorld, making his way back to the Cathedral without a single soul noticing his presence. He travels to the deepest, darkest depths of the Cathedral’s caverns, located miles beneath the Earth’s surface, where he begins an indefinite period of contemplation and meditation. This sequence of events would prove to be a milestone of the BasedWorld Revolution™, and would be forever immortalized in the cover art for the Where Did the Sun Go? mixtape.
Intermission It was a bad time for both Old and New BasedWorld. The Hunchback just stayed inside his Cathedral and he never came out. People said his brain was infected by fake based devils. The Task Force hurt the most of all: without their leader, they crumbled and succumbed to the will of the Bitch Mob. Lil B’s tyrannical rise to power was all but complete. In the months that followed, he would expand his territorial control, conquering the villages of Albany and East Oakland and even sending troops to claim regions of land as far away as Hawaii and Nepal.
Nearly a full year after the disappearance of the BasedGod, Lil B’s armies waged war on Old BasedWorld. The BasedWorld Bridge was destroyed, leaving Lil B and his followers (who controlled the naval fleets) as the only ones who had access to both sides of the territory. After taking most of its citizens hostage and establishing a new structure of government with Lil B at the helm, the Bitch Mob began to formulate its Ultimate Bitch Plan to capture the Hunchback. One night, they rushed the Old BasedWorld Cathedral, setting it ablaze and burning the once-iconic structure to the ground in the hopes of finding the charred body of the BasedGod buried underneath the rubble. When they failed to retrieve the body, the contingent of pretty boys and girls was ordered by Lil B to venture underground, as an ancient prophecy had foretold the Hunchback’s journey to the center of the Earth. Armed with assault rifles of all varieties, they began their descent into the depths of the caverns.
However, the deeper they traveled, the more they became disillusioned by their actions, and the actions of their once-beloved leader Lil B. They did not realize that the closer they got to the Hunchback, the more they were swayed by his righteousness and his way of being. Soon, they were no more than a few hundred yards from locating the BasedGod. It was at this moment that they had a great awakening, recognizing the error of their ways and freeing themselves from the spell that had been placed on them by Lil B. They abandoned their mission, instead choosing to return to the surface without the Hunchback. Lil B, furious at the group’s reluctance to complete their task, began to chastise his former followers, and prepared to issue one of his infamous curses upon them, one which would result in certain death. Having become completely overwhelmed with the guilt and the shame of their exploits as part of Lil B’s army (and also acknowledging the fact that none of them would ever win an NBA championship now without signing to Golden State), they instead turned the guns Lil B had given to them on themselves, committing mass suicide on top of the remains of the Old BasedWorld Cathedral. Thousands of Old BasedWorld onlookers stared in paralyzing shock as the sound of hundreds of guns discharged at once. What followed was several hours of silence, as Lil B, covered in the blood of his former troops, coldly stared at the mass of dead bodies, trying his best to process what had just taken place.
EPISODE IV: A NEW HO(PE)
The Waterfront West Berkeley at Night Meanwhile, on the other side of the Bay, most of the former Task Force members still remaining in New BasedWorld have all but accepted their fates, purchasing clothing that is too tight for them to wear comfortably and listening to the government-approved “Cooking Music” playlist on a constant loop. A small contingent of Hunchback loyalists remain, holding private meetings in the basement of the Café Au Coquelet and listening to the “Based Music” playlist in shrouded secrecy. Upon learning that Lil B and a commission of his troops had left to invade Old BasedWorld, the few remaining Task Force members felt it was safe enough to worship the Hunchback out in the open one last time. As most of the Bitch Mob members who had crossed the BasedWorld Bay with Lil B had come from the village of West Berkeley, the BasedGod’s loyal comrades choose the village’s Waterfront area as the gathering place for the ceremony. Unbeknownst to any of the group’s members, the mass suicides in Old BasedWorld were taking place at the exact same time as the celebration in New BasedWorld was commencing. The Task Force members rejoice, harmoniously singing the BasedGod’s favorite songs of worship: “B.O.R. (Birth of Rap)”, “The Age of Information” and “No Black Person Is Ugly” are belted out towards the heavens. Suddenly, the youngest of the Task Force’s members (who goes by the name of u/insabnma) feels a twinge underneath his bare feet. He looks down at the ground and notices that he has stepped on a golden USB drive, encrusted with diamonds and embroidered with the word “BASED” in all caps. The curious group of based boys and girls procure a laptop and, upon plugging the drive in, are amazed to find a .zip folder of 13 unreleased instrumentals credited as being produced by the BasedGod. Even more amazingly, the first song is entitled “The Waterfront West Berkeley at Night”: the exact place and time of day that they are performing their ritual. The Task Force members ecstatically listen to the new music, with several being driven to the point of involuntary orgasm. Throughout the night, word spreads throughout New BasedWorld of the drive’s existence, and suddenly, the followers of the Hunchback have a renewed sense of hope.
Games of Berkeley and Magic Cards The next evening, thousands of Task Force members, old and new, join together in the town square of Berkeley, the last place that the Hunchback was seen alive. A Task Force party has commenced, with various games being played and the Based Music playlist blasting from the colony’s speakers. As it is nearing midnight, the townspeople are each given a magic life card, rumored to be the same life cards that were discussed in the BasedGod’s legendary philosophical diatribe [“Life on Earth”](). At the stroke of 12, the second of the BasedGod’s 13 secret instrumentals is played, as the crowd enthusiastically chants “Thank You BasedGod” along to the beat. The expectation is that the Hunchback will hear their prayer and reemerge by the end of the song. However, this was not to be the case: the instrumental ends, with the BasedGod nowhere to be found. For a moment, the Task Force is disheartened, wondering if the signs pointing to a return of the Hunchback were too good to be true. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, a shooting star flies across the Berkeley sky, the brightest and most brilliant star that anyone in the colony has ever seen. It continues to arc across the northwestern skyline and appears to land in the village of Albany, a formerly based territory which has been overrun with members of the Bitch Mob. The Task Force is again filled with a renewed sense of hope at this discovery, as they courageously follow the signs that could lead them to the Hunchback’s holy ascension.
Walking Through Albany California Upon arriving in Albany, the Task Force members notice a contingent of Bitch Mob members huddled around a large crater, approximately one mile in diameter. Evidently, this is where the shooting star had landed. One of the senior members of the tribe is examining the star, which, contrary to its once large and brilliant appearance, has been reduced to the size of a small rock. Several Bitch Mob members now make their way into the crater to examine the fallen star. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, the once-dead star explodes into thousands of pieces, each piece shooting out towards the heads of a Bitch Mob member (though some less fortunate members wind up getting hit in the balls). When the star touches each member, it instantly uploads the third of the BasedGod’s secret instrumentals directly into their cerebral cortex. The Bitch Mob members are at first displeased at the lack of poorly mixed 808s and rattling hi-hats, but soon after, they begin to comprehend and enjoy the BasedGod’s alternative production style. Once the song has finished, they have all been converted into full-fledged comrades of the Task Force. The Berkeley delegation of Task Force welcomes their new brothers and sisters into the fold, and the group marches on to spread the word of the Hunchback’s return to the other villages.
The Sound of Being Bullied While this is all occurring in the BasedWorld territories, something else entirely is beginning to unfold in the far away kingdom of Detroit, Michigan. Teejay Witherspoon, the Bitch Mob’s certified rarest hacker, leans back in his chair and slyly grins. His successful exploitation of the BasedGod a year ago has proven to be a major turning point in the young man’s life. His notoriety has allowed him to start a rap career of his own, with several music videos on YouTube having gone viral throughout the past 12 months. His loyalty to the Bitch Mob has been unquestioned, and he has since been promoted to a senior position within the fold. As he clicks his way through a darkweb laundering scheme one evening, he leaves to take a shit and, upon returning to his computer, notices that a mysterious golden USB drive has been plugged into the laptop. Only one file exists on the drive: an audio file entitled “The Sound of Being Bullied.flac”. Teejay curiously loads the file into VLC, and the instant the song begins, he is assaulted with a rush of crushing despair and depression. The title of the song spoke for itself. Teejay is experiencing the totality of the Hunchback’s negative emotions that had been fueled by his prior actions, but even more intensely, and as the emotions begin to amplify, he next notices that his physical being is being affected as well. His body is shaking uncontrollably, his skin is beginning to peel, his eyes are popping out of his skull. After four minutes and seven seconds of agonizing torture, his entire being bursts into flames, unable to handle the power of the BasedGod’s wrath. The song ends.
No Longer Afraid of the Dark It’s dark. The air is still. The ground is hot. Water drips from the ceiling. The Hunchback, in a deep state of reflection, hasn’t moved a muscle for over 12 months. His shriveled body has been starved of nourishment and exercise, but fortunately, his weight gain has had the positive effect of having enough fat stored to keep him alive. The amount of based energy needed to have maintained this state of being has aged the BasedGod considerably. He has been devoid of almost any sense of perception for at least a few months. A faint glow radiates from his being. He has concentrated his powers to what was thought to be an unattainable degree of positivity. Before his extended withdrawal from society, the negative side of the force was something that the Hunchback struggled to put out of mind. At the level of based he now encompasses, the light of positivity is too grand for the BasedGod to fail. He is no longer afraid of the dark. And that’s because the dark no longer exists. The cavern has been filled with his based radiance. And the Hunchback is almost ready to return and spread this radiance throughout the land.
Nepal Wants the BasedGod All across BasedWorld, shooting star sightings have been abound, and thousands upon thousands of Bitch Mob members have been converted to Task Force faithful. Even beyond the traditional confines of BasedWorld, rare star sightings have also been seen in the Bitch Mob’s disparate properties. A star lands in the Bitch Mob’s Nepalian expansion territory. After having its people cleansed with the power of the BasedGod’s sixth secret instrumental track, Nepal adopts a new constitution which entails all of its citizens to embrace the Hunchback’s teachings of optimism and self-love.
Taxi Around Town The streets of Old BasedWorld have been in dire need of repair ever since the Bitch Mob ransacked the colony, but that doesn’t stop Travis, one of the land’s only remaining horse-drawn taxi drivers, from making a buck. One evening, he picks up a mysterious hooded figure in one of the town’s more dangerous districts. The man enters the carriage, greeting the driver with two words: “Hello, Travis.” The driver says nothing. The horses begin their trek through the streets, passing by a row of burning buildings. Travis breaks his silence. “It’s lit,” he says. “The buildings, that is. There’s only a few Bitch Mob members left at this point but they always blow these things up.” The figure feels more comfortable speaking to the driver: “I hear you got the nomination”. It dawns on Travis that this person must be almost exactly one year behind the times: has he ever even heard of Cardi B? Regardless, he plays along. “Straight up. Won’t be long now.” The figure smiles, quipping, “Well, I hope you win.” He then proceeds to remove his hood. Travis looks back and momentarily gasps. His composure returns soon thereafter. Unsure of how to proceed, he attempts to continue the conversation. “I… I read about you in the papers… How are you?” Knowing he’s referring to the suicides, the figure replies, “Oh, it’s nothing new, I got over that.” They sit in silence for the remainder of the ride. Soon, the horses come upon their destination, the edge of the BasedWorld Bay. The figure gets out of the car. Turning to Travis, he asks, “How much was it?” Travis is nearly speechless. He lets out one final Auto-Tuned “So long………..LA FLAME!” and the horses gallop off.
Berkeley California Before Lil B A massive cleaning project has commenced throughout Berkeley. The townspeople have nearly all been converted to followers of the BasedGod by this point, and in a unanimous vote, the colony’s leaders choose to rid Berkeley of any and all trace of Lil B and his formerly effective propaganda. Murals are whitewashed, statues are torn down, and portraits are removed from public spaces as the eighth of the BasedGod’s 13 secret instrumentals is played on a loop. The many books proclaiming Lil B’s omnipotence are collectively burned to ash in the town square. Even saying the name “Lil B” is punishable by fine of up to $30,000, equivalent to the amount of money Lil B had charged for features (in contrast to the Hunchback’s extremely generous $0.01 minimum fee for a verse). The townspeople are once again a tight-knit unit of based human beings living their best lives. It was just like Berkeley California before Lil B.
Welcome to Lost in the Sauce, keeping you caught up on political and legal news that often gets buried in distractions and theater. House-keeping:
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Let’s dig in! Since the coronavirus was the one big story last week, I’m going to do away with the “Main Course” division this week - these are all “sides” in the sense that I have a feeling many people missed these developments.
Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) canceled a planned vote to issue a subpoena in its investigation into Hunter Biden and his work in Ukraine. Johnson informed the committee that instead of subpoenaing former consultant Andrii Telizhenko, he will issue a subpoena to the Democratic public relations firm he worked for: Blue Star Strategies. Although Johnson said the subpoena vote was canceled to give senators time to “receive additional briefings,” a Ukrainian source (Chief editor of The Odessa Review Vladislav Davidzon) told CNN that the subject of the subpoena, Telizhenko, offered him cash to lobby Republican politicians to speak out against Ukraine’s anti-corruption efforts - specifically Ukrainian lawmaker’s attempts to censure two media networks for “broadcasting Russian propaganda.”
In October 2018, the same month that lawmakers voted in favor of a resolution to sanction the two stations, Telizhenko wrote to Davidzon, asking: "Have a question do you or your father have contacts with US Senators? I really need a favour for witch (sic) I can pay up to 5k." ...After expressing concerns about how the new Ukrainian proposals could shut the broadcasters down, Telizhenko then says: “My question is is it possible to get an official comment on a Senators (Rand Paul, Lindsey Graham for example) website next week about this situation of censorship in Ukraine? Really important for me and need fast.”
Ranking member on the committee, Sen. Gary Peters, opposed subpoenaing Telizhenko because he warned that the investigation could be tainted by Russian disinformation. The revelation that Telizhenko has indeed worked for Russian interests seems to substantiate his concerns.
Sen. Murphy’s strategy: Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) formally requested the inspectors general for the State Department, the Treasury Department, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Archives investigate whether those agencies are selectively cooperating with Republican-led efforts to “investigate” Joe and Hunter Biden — while refusing cooperation with Democratic oversight efforts directed at Trump.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence provided its first briefing to Congress since the previous DNI, Joseph Maguire, was fired by Trump for allowing his aide to tell Congress that Russia was acting to boost his re-election chances. The current acting-DNI, Ric Grenell, backed out of briefing Congress himself, reportedly because he did not want to discuss issues that make President Trump angry. Instead, his office was represented by William Evanina, the top counterintelligence official at the ODNI. The latest briefing provided information contradictory to Maguire’s briefing, confusing and frustrating House members. Grenell’s office told Congress that the Kremlin is not “directly aiding any candidate’s re-election or any other candidates’ election.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer reportedly confronted the ODNI officials, accusing them of politicizing critical intelligence and providing insufficient and contradictory information about Russia’s interference.
Russia ramps up interference
While the Trump administration continues to hide and spin intelligence, the media reports that Russia continues to interfere in the U.S. political system. According to seven current officials, the Kremlin is increasing efforts to inflame racial tensions in America as part of its ongoing operation to influence the November elections.
...Now, Russia is also trying to influence white supremacist groups, the officials said; they gave few details, but one official said federal investigators are examining how at least one neo-Nazi organization with ties to Russia is funded. Other Russian efforts, which American intelligence agencies have tracked, involve simply prodding white nationalists to more aggressively spread hate messages and amplifying their invective. Russian operatives are also trying to push black extremist groups toward violence...
Last week, Facebook and Twitter announced they had discovered a Russian-led network of professional trolls outsourced to operatives in Ghana and Nigeria. The network’s 71 Twitter accounts, 49 Facebook accounts, and 85 Instagram accounts were removed.
“These 71 removed accounts, operating out of Ghana and Nigeria and which we can reliably associate with Russia, attempted to sow discord by engaging in conversations about social issues, like race and civil rights,” said Twitter’s safety team in a statement.
Senate Democrats, including Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, sent a letter requesting that the EU introduce additional sanctions against “Putin’s Chef” Yevgeny Prighozin to deter him and the Kremlin from interfering in elections this year.
“As the presidential election in the United States draws closer, our concerns about foreign interference have intensified...The U.S. and European Union should be unified in facing this common threat and take concrete measures to isolate this malign actor and his affiliated firms. This includes sanctions, but also a joint diplomatic approach to urge that countries avoid engaging with Mr. Prigozhin, Wagner and any other organization associated with him."
Acting-DNI Ric Grenell imposed a hiring freeze at the ODNI starting last week, ordering a review of the agency’s personnel and mission:
Some current and former officials said they saw the effort as an attempt to oust intelligence officers who disagreed politically with Mr. Trump. Those officials questioned why Mr. Grenell, in the job temporarily, would undertake a large-scale reorganization, particularly one that previous directors had considered but put aside…Kashyap Patel, an aide in the director’s office who was transferred last month from the White House [and former aide to Representative Devin Nunes], is involved in the review…
The White House is also holding up the nomination of Kathryn Wheelbarger for one of the Pentagon’s top intelligence jobs because she is not considered sufficiently loyal to Trump. Wheelbarger, who has been serving as acting assistant secretary of Defense for international security affairs since November 2018, is nominated to become the deputy undersecretary of Defense for intelligence.
The post that Wheelbarger would fill is one of 21 senior positions at the Pentagon that are empty or filled on a temporary basis, a record high for the Trump administration.
In the middle of a global pandemic, one of the lead response agencies is losing its chief: Mark Green is set to resign from the U.S. Agency for International Development at the end of the month. Green will be replaced by USAID Deputy Administrator Bonnie Glick, a Trump loyalist.
FEC nominee confirmation
Last Tuesday, the Senate held a confirmation hearing for Trump’s nominee to the Federal Election Commission, James “Trey” Trainor. It’s been over two years since Trainor was first nominated to fill the seat left empty by Republican Commissioner Lee Goodman in 2018. Then, last year, the commission’s vice chairman, Matthew Petersen, resigned, leaving only three members in place. The FEC needs a minimum of four members to take actions like investigating campaign finance violations, enforcing rules, and issuing fines. Trainor is a controversial nominee with a history of advancing partisan gerrymandering and past work for Trump. After the Supreme Court invalidated a key part of the Voting Rights Act, Trainor worked with gerrymandering expert and Republican strategist Thomas Hofeller to successfully implement redistricting maps in Texas that were previously ruled to be discriminatory. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the following at Tuesday’s hearing:
“He has worked closely with Thomas Hofeller, notorious for masterminding Republican gerrymandering schemes, to redraw maps that significantly disenfranchise minority voters at the local level. Mr. Trainor’s former law firm described him as being ‘intimately involved’ in Texas’s 2003 redistricting, which the Supreme Court deemed in violation of the Voting Rights Act. Mr. Trainor has argued the Voting Rights Act has become a political tool.”
Schumer also quoted Trainor as saying in 2017 that political donations should be anonymous.
“The Republicans have nominated someone who wants to roll back Citizens United, which the overwhelming majority of the American people support, public disclosure of who’s giving,” Schumer said, adding: “It’s amazing.”
Trainor faced pressure to recuse himself from overseeing any campaign finance matters involving Trump, because he served as a legal adviser on Trump’s 2016 campaign team. Ranking Senate Rules and Administration Committee Member Amy Klobuchar pressed Trainor:
“So you’re not going to just recuse yourself from the beginning on a Trump matter?” Klobuchar asked, visibly surprised. “No, not as a blanket recusal, and I don’t think that there is anyone at the commission currently who has a blanket recusal,” Trainor said. “I think we should all follow the same rules and guidelines.”
Judges finally speak out
U.S District Judge Lynn Adelman, of Wisconsin, published an article in the Harvard Law and Policy Review titled “The Roberts Court's Assault on Democracy.” Adelman takes Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to task for joining the court’s hard right justices in “undermining American democracy” by “carrying out a sustained assault on the right of poor people and minorities to vote” and “reinforcing the enormous imbalance in wealth and political power that has developed in recent decades.”
He described Roberts' 2005 Senate confirmation testimony as "misleading" and declared that "the Roberts Court has contributed to insuring that the political system in the United States pays little attention to ordinary Americans and responds only to the wishes of a relatively small number of powerful corporations and individuals."
Adelman also attacks President Trump for helping the Republican party continue policies that worsen wealth inequality:
Although he ran as a populist and promised to promote policies that benefited ordinary people, upon taking office Trump almost entirely reversed course. He appointed mostly wealthy far-right Republicans and their supporters to his cabinet and to key positions in his administration… Trump also supported a tax bill that provided big benefits to the country’s largest corporations and wealthiest individuals and virtually nothing to the majority of American taxpayers. ...Because Congressional Republicans depend on a relatively small number of wealthy donors to stay in power, their major public policy goal is to do whatever makes such donors happy.
Last week, another prominent member of the judicial community publicly blasted the Chief Justice: Former Hawaii District Judge for 27 years James Dannenberg submitted his resignation from the Supreme Court Bar to Roberts. In a public letter, Dannenberg criticized Roberts for “allowing the Court to become an ‘errand boy’ for an administration that has little respect for the rule of law.” “I have been a member of the Supreme Court Bar since 1972, far longer than you have,” Dannenberg’s letter to Roberts begins.
The Court, under your leadership and with your votes, has wantonly flouted established precedent. Your “conservative” majority has cynically undermined basic freedoms by hypocritically weaponizing others… More than a score of decisions during your tenure have overturned established precedents—some more than forty years old– and you voted with the majority in most. There is nothing “conservative” about this trend. This is radical “legal activism” at its worst. ...The only constitutional freedoms ultimately recognized may soon be limited to those useful to wealthy, Republican, White, straight, Christian, and armed males— and the corporations they control. This is wrong. Period. This is not America. ...I no longer have respect for you or your majority, and I have little hope for change. I can’t vote you out of office because you have life tenure, but I can withdraw whatever insignificant support my Bar membership might seem to provide.
Important court rulings
McGahn and border wall The full bench of the powerful D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals announced on Friday that it will rehear the House’s appeal for Don McGahn’s testimony, vacating the three-judge panel’s previous ruling that judges can’t resolve subpoena disputes between the executive branch and Congress. Arguments are set for April 28. The same court will also take on the House’s challenge of Trump’s emergency declaration to use over $6 billion of federal funds to fund his southern border wall even though Congress only appropriated $1.375 billion. Trump-appointed judge Trevor McFadden dismissed the House’s initial lawsuit last year. Mueller’s grand jury In a 2-1 ruling, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that the Justice Department must allow Congress access to secret material collected by Mueller’s grand jury in its Russian interference investigation. Judges Judith Rogers and Thomas Griffith - Clinton and W. Bush appointees, respectively - found that the House’s impeachment investigation is a legal judicial process that exempts Congress from secrecy rules that typically shield grand jury materials. The Appeals Court decision can be appealed to the Supreme Court. Trump appointee Judge Neomi Rao dissented, saying the House did have legal grounds to ask the court to enforce the subpoena since the impeachment investigation has ended. Rao has taken Trump’s side in virtually every case she’s heard.
it’s hard not to see the trap Rao has built around Congress. Her Mazars opinion claims that Congress has only one path it can use to investigate President Trump. Then, when Congress traveled down the very same path that Rao identified in Mazars, Judge Rao invents a new limit — suggesting that Congress may only get one shot at an impeachment inquiry. Moreover, as Tatel suggests in the Mazars majority opinion, Rao appears to have invented the constitutional limit she placed on congressional investigations out of thin air. The Atlantic’s David Frum wrote that Rao’s Mazars dissent was “wild talk that would shut down almost all congressional investigations.” Maybe that’s the point — at least as long as Trump is in the White House.
Food stamp cuts Friday evening, U.S. District Court Judge Beryl Howell issued an injunction preventing the Trump administration from implementing a rule change that would force nearly 700,000 Americans off food stamps.
"Especially now, as a global pandemic poses widespread health risks, guaranteeing that government officials at both the federal and state levels have flexibility to address the nutritional needs of residents and ensure their well-being through programs like SNAP, is essential," Howell wrote.
The Washington Post reported that District Court Judge Lorna Schofield ordered Trump and his three adult children to “search through 15 years of business records for materials that could inform a lawsuit alleging they profited by promoting a marketing scam targeting vulnerable investors.”
Trump is being sued by four people who say they were duped into joining the multilevel marketing company ACN years ago because of his endorsement. The suit characterizes ACN as a pyramid scheme and accuses Trump of having made misleading claims as a paid pitchman prior to his presidency. All four say they suffered financially as a result. ...In this case, unlike in others, he has not asserted presidential immunity as a defense, and his legal team has already turned over a number of documents.
Atlantic City officials announced they will soon be filing an injunction in Superior Court to demolish the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino tower because it is an “imminent hazard.” The city’s mayor, Mary Small, told the press that chunks of the building’s concrete and stucco facade are actively raining onto nearby streets.
“We could have had a fatality,” Small said. “Things will not be tolerated in the city of Atlantic City.”
The crumbling building has been owned by billionaire and Trump-ally Carl Icahn since 2016, though it has been closed since 2014. Icahn endorsed Trump for president in 2016 and financially supported his campaign. Icahn also served as special economic adviser on financial regulation to Trump briefly in 2017, leaving amid concerns of conflicts of interest. In one of many concerning incidents, it was reported that stock for CVR Energy, in which Icahn has 82% ownership, doubled after President Trump's election, increasing $455 million in value.
Don’t miss:Teen models, powerful men and private dinners: when Trump hosted Look of the Year. “In the early 90s, Donald Trump judged the world’s biggest modelling competition - since hit by allegations of abuse… The stories we have heard suggest that Casablancas, and some of the men in his orbit, used the contest to engage in sexual relationships with vulnerable young models. Some of these allegations amount to sexual harassment, abuse or exploitation of teenage girls; others are more accurately described as rape.”
Trump profiting off presidency: Week 164
CNN: Hotels, clubs and restaurants owned by Trump or bearing his name have billed various federal agencies and personnel more than $1 million since he became the Republican nominee for president...About half of the documented expenses involve the U.S. Secret Service, which has been charged more than $600,000 by various Trump properties between September 2016 and August 2019.
CREW: Taxpayers paid President Trump’s Doonbeg resort $15,144.94 for Secret Service lodging during Vice President Mike Pence’s September 2019 trip to Ireland… We can now say definitively that Pence’s detour not only cost taxpayers extra due to large transportation costs, but also that the bill subsidized one of Trump’s struggling businesses.
CREW: On March 7, less than two weeks after President Trump returned from an official visit to India, the business he still owns and profits from made an announcement: it would now ship Trump-branded products to India. This appears to be a clear violation of the Trump family’s pledge of no new foreign business during the Trump presidency, and an invitation for corruption... India is joined on the announcement by Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Scotland (which we must note is still technically part of the United Kingdom) and Germany.
ProPublica: The Trump Organization paid bribes, through middlemen, to New York City tax assessors to lower its property tax bills for several Manhattan buildings in the 1980s and 1990s, according to five former tax assessors and city employees as well as a former Trump Organization employee. Two of the five city employees said they personally took bribes to lower the assessment on a Trump property; the other three said they had indirect knowledge of the payments.
New York Times summarized by HuffPo: President Donald Trump’s campaign manager is quietly channeling money to Eric Trump’s wife, Lara Trump, and Donald Trump Jr.’s girlfriend, Kimberly Guilfoyle… The family benefits are linked to a network of politically connected private companies — operating with the support and help of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner — that have charged roughly $75 million since 2017 to the Trump reelection campaign, the Republican National Committee and other Republican clients
States, elections, and environment
Ecowatch: A federal judge in Alaska ruled late Wednesday against a Trump administration plan to open 1.8 million acres of America's largest national forest to logging. The Forest Service plan targeted part of the Tongass National Forest on Prince of Wales Island.
Press release: The Center for Biological Diversity sued the Trump administration today for failing to decide whether 241 plants and animals across the country — from the Midwest’s golden-winged warbler to Venus flytraps in the Carolinas — should be protected under the Endangered Species Act. The lawsuit, filed in district court in Washington, D.C., is one of the largest ever under the Act and seeks to undo years of illegal inaction by the Trump administration.
NYT: A New York man who threatened to kill Representative Ilhan Omar in a hate-filled call to her office was sentenced to a year and a day in prison… Mr. Carlineo admitted to making the threatening call, and described himself as a patriot who loved Mr. Trump and hated “radical Muslims in our government,” according to the criminal complaint.
ProPublica: The Republican National Committee has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to contractors closely connected to the organization’s chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel. One contract went to her husband’s insurance company. Two others went to businesses whose executives recently donated to Ronna for Chair, a largely inactive political action committee that McDaniel controls.
CNN and NYT: Infowars founder and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones was arrested in Texas on a charge of driving while intoxicated… [Also,] The New York State attorney general has issued a cease-and-desist order to Alex Jones, the conservative radio host, alarmed by false claims on his website that his diet supplements and toothpaste could be used to fight the coronavirus.
Politico: Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Tuesday he was unaware of any indication from his agency that physical barriers along America’s borders would help halt the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. — contradicting an assertion President Donald Trump made earlier in the day.
The Guardian: Doctors are concerned the spread of coronavirus to the US’s prison-like immigration detention centers is inevitable and will hit a system blighted by overcrowding and medical negligence… Dr Josiah Rich, an epidemiologist at Brown University, said one tool the US government has to prevent the spread of coronavirus is to release some of the 43,990 people in immigration detention, while their legal cases are being processed. People are held in these detention centers for civil immigration violations, not criminal charges, and the government can release them unless they are considered a danger to the community.
NPR: The U.S. Supreme Court delivered the Trump administration another win on one of its signature immigration policies on Wednesday, allowing it to continue the controversial "Remain in Mexico" policy across the entire southern border. The policy, officially called the Migrant Protection Protocols, requires asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for their day in U.S. immigration court. That has led to roughly 60,000 migrants getting sent back across the border since MPP was first implemented in January 2019.
NPR: Hundreds of asylum-seekers who reach the Texas-Mexico border aren't getting a chance to make their case in U.S. immigration court. Instead, the migrants — mostly women and children — are put on planes to Guatemala and told to ask for asylum in that country.
CNN: In explosive audio obtained through the work of a leading human rights group and released by CNN, a Trump administration attorney is heard finally admitting what experts and advocates have been insisting from the start: Remain in Mexico, the administration policy forcing tens of thousands of vulnerable asylum-seekers to wait for their U.S. immigration court dates in Mexico, is in fact dangerous.
“I think what I’m hearing from the government is, and I’ll be honest, I don’t like it,” the judge said, according to the audio. “What I’m hearing is, that well everybody has to take that risk and that chance, and you get kidnapped, you get kidnapped, that’s the risk you take for being in Mexico, and wanting to apply for asylum here in the United States … I don’t think it’s humane. But we’re talking about human beings and lives. It’s not a piece of paper in my opinion. And I really don’t like what I just heard.”
Washington Post: Pregnant woman dies after falling from border wall, a sign of migrants’ desperation… A year ago, during the height of the family migration surge, the couple probably would have tried to turn themselves in to seek asylum, he said. But an array of new restrictions imposed by the Trump administration is driving border-crossers to take more risks, migrant advocates say.
I see this post so often, and I'm amazed that people have trouble of thinking of things to do in an urban environment, so I thought I'd lend a hand. Thanks as always to The Gollicking members, Mimir-ion, Zweefer, RexiconJesse, u/arc_onyx, InfinityCircuit and DeathMcGunz. I've built a lot of cities. I find that its best to categorize.
Arts (Theater, dance, art, music)
Nightlife (Drinking, dancing, sex)
Shopping (Basics and Luxury)
Entertainment (Museum, Library, Zoo, Circus, Auction, Sage)
Sports (Team and Solo, and includes Gambling)
Nautical (Fishing, diving, sailing, yachting)
Here's my personal city encounters lists, slightly altered with worldbuilding details to be more generic and useful. They are yours to take, amend, and discard, with my thanks. There are 6 categories, with 20 entries for each category, giving us 120 encounters. (160 with the comment, below) A d6 and a d20 can dice up a full roster of stuff to do quite quickly. Enjoy!
Free outdoor art gallery with paintings, sculpture, food vendors and musicians. A note is passed to the party from a stranger.
A new play from a famous playwright is debuting at the local theater. The party receives an invitation from an anonymous source via a messenger.
A street band is playing raucous tunes outside the party's lodgings and a crowd prevents them from entering. If they persist, they accidentally start a brawl.
A festival is being held in the city and all citizens and visitors are required to attend and pay fealty to the city's ruler. During the parade an explosion destroys some buildings and kills nearly 100 people. The party is very close to the blast and sees a hooded figure fleeing via rooftop.
A local busker who always recites bad elven poetry is found one morning turned to stone.
A band of mimes have come to the city to perform a series of comedy shows. One of the mimes is a Doppleganger and is here to assassinate one of the party's allies.
A dance troupe, known for their public and surprise appearances (a "flashmob"), starts a performance in and around the party in the street. During the performance one of the dancers lunges at one of the party members and whispers, "Help me" in their ear, before carrying on with the spectacle.
A mysterious sculpture garden has "sprouted" in a main city street, seemingly grown from the very ground itself. All of the figures are depictions of body horror and some spectators have been driven mad or died after looking at them for too long.
Artist paints caricature portraits of passers-by which come to life at night to cause havoc.
There is a sand castle contest at the local beach. While digging a pit one contestant finds a wooden chest. It is sealed with arcane sigils and very dangerous. Inside is a lifeform.
The party is asked to investigate a local art gallery as the last known location of a model that has disappeared. The party finds extremely life like statues of various people, missing model included, and discovers the sculptor is a Maedar, with a pet Basilisk, trying to replicate his dead mate (a Medusa).
The party is invited to a studio for free painting lessons. The paint fumes trigger a spell that sends the party into a collective Dream. They must find their way out and defeat the Artist-Wizard and his pet Nothic before they are bled dry (to fuel a hideous ritual).
An audience-participation theater-event is occurring in one of the parks, and the party is encouraged to join, and are asked to put on some simple costumes. Upon doing so, they are swapped with hidden Clones, who continue the performance, while the party is teleported to an underground prison full of holding cells. There are dozens of other trapped citizens there.
A new popular song is all the rage and being sung by drunken bravos and university students alike. The song has a 10% to transfer an audio-parasite, that will drive the singer mad and ultimately into a catatonic state over the course of 7 days. During this time they will be compelled to sing the “hook” over and over, in the hopes of infecting any nearby listeners.
A master tattooist has set up a temporary shop on the fringes of the city. For a hefty fee, the customer will receive an exquisite piece of personal art, and on full moons, the tattoo will be able to sense the presence of magic, poisons, disease, or creature types (DMs choice). The master will leave after 24 hours, never to be seen again and the tattoo will fade completely after 30 days.
An artist is painting landscapes on the street. She says she’ll paint any place the customer desires. For a fee, she can make the painting a one-time portal to that place. The portals always go to the wrong location (this is discovered after travel has occurred).
A local homeless man, who mimes for money along the Promenade and in the Park, suddenly finds his invisible walls and pretend ropes are real. Passersby run into invisible walls of force left behind by him, people are dragged to him by his invisible rope, and he now hides in a corner of the park, afraid he will hurt others with this newfound power. The local Telekinesis Guild (bunch of filthy impostors and con artists, mostly) are furious that he has what they secretly do not, and has put a bounty on him, paid upon live delivery to their guild house.
A local street band is performing the show of their life and the music has become magical. Any Bards present will be able to “draw” 1-3 new spells from the performance. All others will be Blessed for the next 48 hours.
An artist has set up a crude telescope, pointing at the ground. For a small fee, you can look through the telescope and see a miniature world, full of tiny blue humanoids in a stone-age environment. The telescope is enchanted with a very detailed Major Illusion spell that allows the humanoids to be seen, and is also Cursed to drive the viewer mad by causing them to see the tiny blue humanoids everywhere they go. The curse will begin 24 hours after using the telescope and will persist for 30 days or until the victim goes mad, or dies. The Curse will manifest the humanoids as watching, then menacing, then threatening, then murderous.
Some Elven sculptors have set up a “Century Garden” - plinths of stone overhung by apparatus with funnels in different angles and locations that drip acids onto the stone - slowly forming the final form of the artists vision. The artist is selling tickets (valid in 100 years) to attend the ceremony.
A local tavern is showcasing a new lager and a spruiker is on the streets handing out "1/2 off" coupons to passersby. The party is given "2 free drinks" coupons on purpose by the NPC. A stranger is waiting inside that wants to talk to the party.
A dance club, on a typical night, has been infiltrated by an Avatar of Bacchus and has caused the party to spill into the streets where it has been pulling in passersby. The party is caught up in the crowd.
An exclusive nightclub has opened, membership only. One of the party’s allies goes missing and was last seen there. The club is a coven of Sorcerers and every night they sacrifice a kidnapped customer to try to summon an Eldritch Horror.
A hot club in town is secretly run by vampires. Cover charge is 1 pint of blood. Thralls being thralls, one of them talks, and a Hunter has gotten wind of the nest. The party will see him interrogating a thrall and escalating to torture.
A drunken brawl spills out of a tavern near the party. The fight is brutal, involving makeshift weapons and ends up overtaking the party. If they do not flee, during the fracas the party notices that one of the brawlers is biting his opponents and swallowing the flesh. If they do flee, they hear the next day that a pile of half-eaten bodies was discovered in the aftermath. A new zombie-master has come to town.
While out drinking, the party sees a Silver Elf enter the tavern, and time slows to 50% of its current speed for all but the party and Elf, who remain at 100%. The Elf asks the party if they would like to play a game of chess. If they say no, the Elf vanishes, and time returns to normal. If they agree they must wager a precious/strong/important memory against the answer to any question. The Elf has an INT modifier of +4 and a +4 proficiency in gaming. Upon the conclusion of the game, the Elf vanishes and time returns to normal. The bar patrons never see the Elf.
While in a tavern, a game of darts among some locals concludes in violence and 2 end up dead. On one of the deceased bodies is a treasure map that leads to a guarded vault in the wilderness.
A particularly virulent STD is going around the brothels. Over the course of 72 hours it turns the afflicted into a receptor for mental dominance from a powerful psion. The “Mind Taker” uses these puppets to rob the afflicted and deliver their valuables to a guarded location. Then the psion drains the puppet of its final mental faculties and stores it as an energy source for later. The bodies are then destroyed using a Rod of Disintegration. One of the party’s allies (or a party member themselves) has come down with a case of “The Threads” (so named for the red lines of infection radiating from the genitalia into the legs and torso.
A dance club has been cursed by a witch to afflict some (30%) of the customers with “Otiluke’s Irresistible Dance”. Some patrons have been dropping dead from it and the club owners are covering it up by secretly burying the bodies in the basement and drugging the witnesses. The party is present for this or one of their allies goes missing.
A man attempting to throw a party so massive he will officially become “the God of Partying” wants the players to help him throw an absolute rager. If they help, he will remember them fondly when he reaches godhood. The party could overrun the region/city.
The party finds a club throwing a rager in the party’s honor. All night, people toast the party members, dance with them, and celebrate. No one in the party has to pay for drinks. The next day, the party gets the bill for everyone's drinks. The tavern was told the event was for the party and would be paid for by them as well.
A new fad in the high-end taverns of the city, catering to young noblemen with too much money and not enough sense, is a drink called The Kiss. One part grain alcohol, one part pufferfish venom - a shot of this causes hallucinations and numbness, in addition to more than the usual drunkenness. Two young men, heirs to fortunes and titles in the court, have died in the last two nights. Word is they drank too many of these. The noble families want blood, and put bounties on all known bartenders serving This Kiss. The guard don’t want a riot on their hands if they interfere with the Mixologist’s Guild, the most powerful multinational trade guild in the world. A representative from the Crown has summoned the party, to discreetly investigate the explosive situation.
A group of drunks stumble towards the party and push through/past them. During this, the party will each be subject to a Pickpocket attempt (+8 Sleight of Hand). If discovered, the “drunks” are a pack of rogues who “own” this territory. If challenged, they will flee and return with a number of Thugs equal to the number of party members.
A grifter comes up to the party and bets that they can guess “where you got your boots/shoes”. The answer is “on your feet” (where the footwear currently is). The grifter will demand a small amount of cash after this, and will become hostile if denied or hassled.
An avatar of Bacchus/Dionysus appears in the area and begins a Revel. Those who hear the music or see the dancing/drinking must save vs Wisdom (DC 20) or join in. The Revel will last for 72-96 hours and leave partygoers with 3 levels of Exhaustion (and be many miles from where it started).
A Dwarven “thrashgnome” band is throwing an impromptu concert on the roof of a local tavern. The noise is deafening and a large brawl will erupt after awhile - during the fracas an object will find itself at the feet of one of the party members. It is a powerful Fetish that was stolen from a Witch (who has been seeking it, and is nearby).
The party enters a tavern to discover their money is “no good” and they are suddenly crowned “Lager Kings/Queens” for the night, and feted and welcomed by each individual tavern patron. The party will, as the sun rises, be poisoned by the insinuative poison that was in each successive drink, and if they fail a Con check vs a high DC, they will be magically Sleep’ed and find themselves strapped to a basement altar for a hatchling Gold Dragon to feed upon. If they succeed on the check, they are very ill and considered Incapacitated for the next 24 hours.
A new tavern has appeared in the area, and will vanish after the night’s festivities to appear in a random location in the world the next night. The tavern patrons are all Fey, and this is the “Wandering Druid Pub”.
A dealer is handing out “free tokes” of a new narcotic. The narcotic is powerful and hallucinatory, but harmless otherwise, except for the addiction rate, which is near 100%. A Con check vs a high DC is required. If failed, the user must take the drug again in the next 24 hours or suffer 2 levels of Fatigue. Every day without the drug thereafter confers another level of Fatigue. If the check is passed, they will become violently nauseous every time they take the drug again.
A group of Gnomish Brewmasters have set up a tasting booth on the street and are giving out free samples of “Old Brown Mare” - a powerful stout that has a tiny side effect - 10% of the imbibers are shrunk to Gnomish height for 24 hours.
(OPTIONAL) - A cadre of bound Incubi and Succubi have escaped from a brothel and are desperately seeking an escape from the area. They will make any deal possible to make this happen.
While looking for weapons, a party member "accidentally" activates a sentient weapon, who declares the party member as "master" and demands to know what has happened since it was "put to sleep".
While shopping, one or more of the party members is pickpocketed by a young kid who is part of an "urchin gang". This gang is an arm of one of the more powerful rogue guilds in the city.
A street vendor is selling “gag gifts”, guaranteed to ensure the perfect prank. All the objects are cursed, and the vendor reveals this as if they were joking, as part of the shtick.
Upon purchasing a normal mundane item, it is found to be hollow, with an unknown substance hidden inside of it. If left undiscovered, the person who sold it will try to get the item back, by negotiation or violence, it depends on the party’s willingness to part with it.
A certain type of plush toy is all the rage in this city, and the party will acquire one upon their next purchase - all the merchants were paid to distribute these as “customer incentives.” The toys act as scrying focus for the local thieves guild. The party’s lodgings will be robbed within 24 hours obtaining the toy.
An extraordinary amount of the richer folk of the town have gathered on the plaza. Gregory’s Golden Garments has arrived back in town from one of his far-off trading junkets. He brings the most exclusive textiles and materials to town, and the auction has started (dragon-skins, silk, etc.). During the auction, someone purchases a rare bolt of material and the party finds it in their room later, with instructions to hide it. If they don’t, a group of Assassins come looking for it. If they do, they will be contacted by a mysterious agent who asks them to transport it far away for a hefty fee.
An Annual Food Festival kicks off with much fanfare. However, someone has poisoned the foodstuffs and half the city is sick with nausea and other vile emissions. The organisers, afraid to lose their heads, have set a hefty bounty for finding the culprit(s), and one of these pamphlets is pushed on the party.
While shopping for weapons, a woman approaches the party and asks them to sell a weapon for her, as she cannot. She explains that the weapon is Cursed and will not allow itself to be sold by the owner. If the party agrees, she looks visible relieved and hands the item over. Now the weapon belongs to the party member who took it (and it cannot be sold). The item is a -1 weapon.
A small purse keeps whispering at a player for them to buy it. It remains silent when others are observing it and refuses to talk if it thinks anyone else can hear it. It says it can help them (count money, hide it from pickpockets, and offer insight) if they give it something in return (it wants costly gemstones).
Every store and restaurant the party enters seems to be run by the same person. If confronted, they laugh and say they “get that all the time”, but will profess ignorance otherwise. The merchants are all Dopplegangers and today is their “Day of Pranks”. If two merchants are forced together, they will become violent and the others will run out to join them.
The party finds a flyer shoved under their lodging’s door that promises “75% off all Adventuring Gear” at a local merchant. The merchant is very chatty and inquisitive and will press the party for information about where they are going next. The merchant then sells this information to a gang of rogues who will follow the party and attempt to rob them as they exit the dungeon.
While shopping for clothes, a party member hears a weeping noise. No one around seems to be crying, so if this is investigated, the member finds a top hat that seems to be the source. If the hat is put on, the party member is Cursed with a particularly nasty form of melancholia.
The next time an item of clothing is purchased, the party member discovers that it has a large “Pocket Dimension” concealed within its folds. There is an object already inside the pocket.
A beautiful man/woman approaches the lowest CHA party member and offers to make their “dreams come true” if they will sell their soul. The man/woman will cast a real Wish on behalf of the party member (which works without the usual DM fuckery, but will expire in 1 year, and a group of Devils will appear to collect the player’s soul). If refused, the man/woman will leave, but if confronted, they will flee. The man/woman is a mortal humanoid who simply shills for a Crossroads Devil.
While shopping for arrows/projectiles, the merchant offers the party a “one-time deal” of some special projectiles that are “guaranteed to strike their target every time” and will demonstrate this quality in a shooting lane set up in the back of the shop. The projectile will work as promised within the shop itself, without limit, but outside the shop, the first 3 only will work as promised and the rest will automatically fail-to-hit. If confronted later, the shopkeeper will claim ignorance and claim the party member is lying (even going so far as to call the Watch for harassment).
The city is having a 50% sale, city-wide, for the next 24 hours. Rogues know this too, and are everywhere, preying on the crowds, or following them home to be robbed later.
While shopping for provisions, the merchant says they are looking for “exotic meat hunters”, and will pay top prices for “anything unusual” without limit, provided the meat is delivered dressed.
A new confectionery store has opened and is giving away free samples in the streets. The sweets are mildly intoxicating, and have the added side-effect of making those who eat them very amorous for the next 8 hours. The owners are clerics of the Deity of Love.
An arsonist is burning down merchant shops, by “category”. The perpetrator is a failed businessperson themselves, and is merely seeking revenge. The first things burned are the weapon and armor shops.
While shopping for armor, the merchant offers to show the party a “special selection” of exotic armor. These are all very unusual and very expensive. This is a one-time offer that will never be repeated and if confronted, the merchant will claim ignorance as to the existence of the exotic armors, and if the shop is searched, they are nowhere to be found.
The party receives an anonymous gift of entry passes to an exclusive and private club in the city. At the club, the party is approached by cultists who attempt to persuade the party into joining.
The museum is showcasing some rare artifacts. While visiting, the party is present during the brazen theft of one of the objects - an item of unique and dangerous powers.
Zoo animals have escaped and are menacing the population!
A local sage sends an urgent message to the party about a matter of great importance. The sage, a bit senile, has gotten mixed up and this is not the group he was supposed to contact. He does not realize this and treats the party as if they were hired to retrieve a book from an old, guarded crypt. If the party refuses, the Sage will eventually be foolish enough to try it himself and the party will hear about his death.
A public estate sale of one of the city’s wealthiest families is announced. The prices are high, but the quality equally impressive. In the announcement is an object that the party or one of the party members has been looking for. If they attend the sale, they discover the price is three times higher than they can afford (even after pooling money or getting a loan). The security is strong but not impossible...
The museum is showcasing the preserved remains of a long-dead monster race as part of a traveling exhibition. During a tour, or at night when closed, the monsters are revived by an interested party, and they go on a murderous spree. They attack either the party (along with many others) or one of the party’s allies.
A series of foreign street magicians has entered town and perform solo acts all over town. One of them is near the party, and they need a volunteer for a (permanent) disappearing act.
A street corner storyteller is spinning a tale of adventure and peril to a crowd. The tale sounds suspiciously like the last adventure the party had.
While eating, the party sees a puppet show happening nearby. They find it (magically) difficult to avert their eyes from the felt performers and can see figures moving out of the corners of their eyes. These are Oblique Golems, and can only move when not being viewed. The golems will attempt to rob anyone nearby. The puppets are just puppets.
An Escape Room boasts a valuable prize for any group who can escape/solve the room before the hourglass fills. Several of the puzzles in the escape room align runes and involve magic words of power. If the party manages to complete the room, they complete the spell, finding a portal now open above the building. Demons pour from it into the town, and it cannot be closed for at least 24 hours.
Some fire-jugglers are performing in the street, and they appear to be using magic to create illusionary figures that leap from the burning torches. These are actually Mephits, and the fire-jugglers did not summon them, they appeared on their own. They run off to cause havoc and burn as much of the city as they can.
A local casino is offering big prizes to “Spin the Wheel” - with only a 5% chance of winning, this is mostly a scam, but those who play are Wizard-Marked to be robbed later. The prizes for actually winning are 4-figures.
A pig-racing track has been cordoned off - turning the streets into the racecourse. All are welcome to enter, and whoever wins is offered a lucrative contract joining the “Hog Ridin’ Circuit” - a racing tournament involving half-a-dozen cities and some very shady dealings.
A masked spruiker hands the party an ornately engraved thin metal plaque inviting them to an exclusive event at a place called “The Garden”, and a map is etched on the reverse side. The event, if attended, presents the party with an opportunity to travel to another plane and earn the favor of a powerful, if enigmatic figure.
A group of acrobats are performing feats and stunts in the street. During the performance, one of the party members sees the face of one of the tumblers momentarily change into something monstrous.
A pair of dueling Illusionists is staging an elaborate mock-battle in a nearby park, but neglected to inform anyone of this beforehand and have caused a panic.
A tour group suddenly appears and engulfs the party. The guide is pointing out places where famous adventurers have died, and suddenly points right where the party is standing and begins discussing them as if they were not there! The tour group can not be interacted with (as they are projections from the future) and soon quickly departs and vanishes around a corner.
A street lottery is being held by a local neighborhood social group. The cost is low and any tickets purchased are said to go towards upgrading the local park. There is a 50% that the party wins a modest prize of home-baked goods. The locals will send a message to the party later that their tickets were fraudulent and demand a return of the prize or the equivalent value in currency. This “lottery” is a common scam run in the area on obvious tourists.
During an previous-announced free concert by some famous Bards, a bomb explodes.
A street comedian is inadvertently casting “Tasha’s Hideous Laughter” on audience members. The phenomenon is soon discovered and the comedian flees. Later, he is found dead and covered in a thin slime.
The party receives an anonymous gift of tickets to a local sporting match. If they attend, they are approached by an NPC who says they represent a "person who wishes to remain nameless, but desires to procure your services in a delicate, and potentially dangerous matter."
The party is invited by a local ally to attend a boxing match. At the match both fighters are killed by a powerful assassin who works in secret for a local politician.
The party attends a game of skill and is accused of bribing a ref to throw the game by a rogue (who did actually rig the fight, but now has been caught and is desperate). A few of his crew will back him up and some of the crowd sides with them.
A marathon race has been scheduled to wind through the city as part of a larger season of racing. A number of famous people and some talented locals will participate. During the race, several of the runners suddenly collapse and begin coughing blood. This is the start of a disease outbreak, and will, without precautions, infect over half the city in only 72 hours. The source is magical in nature, and part of a larger scheme to cripple the city by a secret faction.
A bare-knuckle street match has been set up by an enterprising rogue/wizard. A series of ringers are inviting all-comers to challenge for a fat purse. Those who fight are wizard-marked, and followed later, to be kidnapped and bound for a fighting-arena in the Underdark.
An illegal horse race, infamous in the city for causing multiple deaths every year, is about to commence once again. The street the party currently finds themselves in will turn into the aftermath of a battlefield within several seconds. The race has no rules and is heavily wagered upon by the criminal elements of the city.
A “Circus Maximus” involving blood-sport, animal fighting, and a “nautical spectacle” is going to be held at the city’s largest stadium. The public is allowed to sign up to fight in one of the 3 events. The purse for winning is generous (5 figures) and is, of course, rigged and being carefully watched by the strongest Rogues Guild in the city, who stand to make a pile of money. If the party participates, they will see that some of their opponents have been enchanted with speed and strength.
An annual Guards Competition is about to commence. They are divided into 4 teams, and the locals have lifelong and fierce loyalties
In one quarter is an annual event - the Endurance Drinking Contest. A group of competitors take a shot, perform a task, take a shot, perform a different task, repeat. The winner gets a trophy, their portrait on the wall of winners, and bragging rights. The tasks range from silly to nearly impossible.
A mounted race is about to commence, and the party runs into a thick crowd along the edges of the route. If the party chooses to stay to watch, they will see one of the riders being assassinated from a position high above the streets by a mage’s spell.
A traveling ball-team is looking for a manager and some bodyguards, and one of the party’s allies has recommended the party, as a joke. The team shows up where the party is to conduct an interview.
A boxing match has resulted in a death and the angry and bewildered crowd has spilled out into the streets in a terrible brawl, hurting bystanders and destroying property. If the body is examined, 3 small holes in the back of the dead boxer’s neck can be found and 3 small projectiles found inside the wound. The trail leads to a mage’s henchman.
Illegal cart-racing has been taking place at night among the city’s youth and an ally of the party is terribly worried about their child’s possible-participation. The racing will soon claim lives.
The Dozens has arrived in the city - a nationwide, very famous content of insults and put-downs. The entry fee is to survive a round-robin of burns during The Throwdown, where hundreds will enter. The prize is bragging rights, a 4-figure cash prize, and the chance to defend their title next year.
An ally of the party has entered a marathon footrace. During the race, the ally disappears.
A Fishing Derby, the 1st of 3 contests each year, is being held by any who wish to pay the modest entry fee. There is only one rule - you cannot use a traditional rod/reel, fly, or net/seine to catch the fish. The Derby draws the inventive and the mad, and lasts over 3 days.
A professional team of Goliath and Dwarven “Chicken Fighters” arrive at the city for an exhibition match in the city’s swimming pool. One of the Goliath recognizes a party member (whether the members also remembers them, or not) and offers free tickets. During the match, one of the Dwarves is hurt, and after a flurry of rules-consultations, its determined that a substitute is allowed. The party is looked at by the Goliath and asked for help.
A ping-pong match is being staged between Royal cousins, to settle a dispute. The match is going to be public, and during it, both Royals disappear and are replaced with monkeys. Uproar ensues.
The party finds out there is an underground avian-fighting event happening below the tavern. When they go to investigate, they find a goose and a rooster on opposite sides of a metal chess board pushing the pieces around randomly. A ref resets illegal moves and pulls captured pieces from the board. The crowd roars wildly, screaming for their bird to win the game. The party is approached by a grifter who says he knows who’s going to win and will sell the info. The grifter’s prediction will prove right 2 times, then wrong the 3rd time.
An illegal blood-sport fighting match has caused the death of a local celebrity and the party has been framed for the murder.
A local ally invites the party on a fishing trip. While on the trip, the vessel is attacked by a desperate band of Kuo-Toa, who appear to be diseased and attack with a more-than-usual savage aggression.
The city is holding a yachting regatta and the party is present when one of the ships catches fire. Many accusations are bandied about and most seem to blame one of the city’s administrators who had a grudge.
A seasonal storm rushes over the city does significant (and costly) damage to the local fleets (and any ships the party might have moored here). Trade and travel is stalled and only a hefty bribe and some forceful diplomacy can secure any movement needs that the party might have.
A local mad-wizard-inventor is launching a submarine and has asked for volunteer pilots and crew. If the party accepts, they are attacked by a great white shark. If they do not, the sub is sunk by the shark. The mad-wizard will try again next month with a new design. If the shark has been killed, this version will find a sunken treasure worth a king’s fortune.
The party is invited to a beach party by an ally. While there, a number of party-goers find themselves suddenly growing gills and webbed feet and toes and a strong urge to enter the ocean. They have been drugged by a Sahuagin Sorcerer, who is trying to build an “amphibious army” to attack the town and destroy it.
A large number of Brachia (Crab-Folk) have surfaced in the bay and are attempting to communicate via the Dream spell (which will manifest as the entire town committing suicide, and this will be dreamed en-masse by the locals). This dream is not a threat, but a warning of what will happen if the townsfolk don’t rid themselves of a recently-acquired magic item (by the party themselves, or by another adventuring group). They have 72 hours to unravel the mystery.
A number of Were-Sharks are attacking swimmers at night (mostly kids/young adults out partying on the beach). These therianthropes are not aware of their actions, but know something is wrong. While shape-changed, they work as a team, like wolves.
While passing a street they encounter a group of semi-drunken sailors. The sailors start a brawl with the party, for their fun. When magic or weapons are used things will get nasty as the sailors will pull shivs, long knives, chains, and cudgels.
Something has turned the ocean red and fish are dying in great numbers.
A large statue that could be worth a lot is trapped in a cavern in the water. If the party can retrieve it without additional help, they can claim it as their own, sell it, and keep all of the profits. If they enlist any help, the local authorities will take over the operation and claim the statue for themselves.
During a sailboat race, a school of merfolk begin harassing and destroying the boats.
A group of traveling sailors try to sell famous and popular books, paintings, and equipment to the party at a great price. Upon closer inspection, the items appear to be forgeries.
A seadragon is heading for the coast, but rumor has it she will slumber if told a bedtime story. In order for her to hear it, the party must intercept her and shout the story from aboard a ship. But it better be a good story.
An ocean water spirit wants to visit a fellow spirit friend who is further inland. They will make a path over land of water they can travel through. The party can try to convince the spirit to follow their path and plot a nondestructive course, or they can try to stop the spirit from visiting their friend through force.
For three days, no one has been able to catch a fish with a hook and line. Nothing even bites, something just cuts the lines before any fish can bite.
A local surfer has gone missing and only his surfboard is found on the beach, covered in a black slime. Days later, his head (missing the eyes) washes ashore.
An Aboleth has awoken in the bay and starts calling minions to serve it. Some of them are townsfolk, and possibly the Mayor as well.
A waterspout threatens the docked ships in the harbor. It is not a natural occurrence.
A pack of Scrag (Sea Trolls) have started plucking beachcombers from the shoreline.
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