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  • Surprised there's no mention of Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants, a novel about a fictional veterinary student's time in a traveling circus. A circus that hedges far closer to the exploitative end of the spectrum. Headed by an unscrupulous (and alcoholic) owner that will track down failing competitors and swoop in to buy up all the loose "assets" the moment they fail, in a pattern the book itself describes as being "like a vulture". A man who has to be argued with to not feed spoiled meat to the big cats...and who is entirely okay with feeding some of the "lesser" circus animals to said big cats if the situation calls for it. Indulgences are heaped on the upper management (like the owner and the equestrian director), while the common workers get barely anything and are constantly in danger of getting kicked out...including on a moving train. That equestrian director, by the way, is a psychopath, responsible for multiple injuries and probably murders, that is allowed to go unpunished because the owner doesn't give a damn. The circus is a disfunctional operation, held together by elbow grease, compromises (read: moral), and a healthy dose of economic parasitism.

    In short, exactly the sort of outfit the Wyrm would dig itself into and never leave.

    The book has a film adaptation, though I haven't seen it.


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    • Originally posted by Bluecho View Post
      Surprised there's no mention of Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants,
      I knew there was something big I had overlooked. Thanks for reminding me.


      What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly. That is the first law of nature.
      Voltaire, "Tolerance" (1764)

      Comment


      • Midnight Circus addendum

        In addition to Water for Elephants, another bit I forgot to mention was wax museums. Normally, these are more stand alone attractions than part of a carnival. However, I am a long time fan of the 80s fantasy-horror series Friday the 13th: The Series, and the seventh episode of the second season, "Wax Magic", involves a small scale chamber of horrors (the subsection of many wax museums devoted to figures of infamy and terror) as part of a traveling carnival. And, following the show's formula, murder ensues. While the two film versions of House of Wax (1953 and 2005) have the idea of the wax displays being real bodies of murder victims, my all time favorite concept for the idea comes from the 1988 movie Waxwork, in which the the displays suck victims into their scenarios and result in their deaths at the hands of the monsters and villains. (The movie is deeply weird, not least of which for the first 10 minutes or so, in which the protagonist - Zach Galligan of Gremlins fame - seems to be totally out of character compared to the rest of the film, and the final climax rivals Blazing Saddles in it's abrupt left turn from the previous film. But David Warner's turn as the villain is fun, and John Rhys-Davies has a bit part as one of the wax exhibit monsters. And the actual evil plot - bringing back 18 of the most evil people to have ever lived by sacrificing victims via this elaborate magical set up - is kind of cool, and I could see being part of the Circus).
        I'll also throw out the 1999 version of House on Haunted Hill, for its use of some of the work of Honore Fragonard, an 18th century sculptor and anatomist famous for his "flayed figures" of humans and animals. He's been featured on Ripley's Believe it or Not also, and his work is very WoD appropriate.
        Last edited by No One of Consequence; 09-04-2019, 11:06 PM.


        What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly. That is the first law of nature.
        Voltaire, "Tolerance" (1764)

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        • Just finished rewatching the entire Jurassic Park franchise.

          Ingen really does make for a PERFECT Pentex subsidiary.


          "Steel isn't strong, boy. Flesh is stronger."

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          • Originally posted by Fat Larry View Post
            Just finished rewatching the entire Jurassic Park franchise.

            Ingen really does make for a PERFECT Pentex subsidiary.

            Run by Mnetics/corrupted Mokole. no doubt.

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            • Is this thread still open?

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              • Yes. I've just been badly distracted by work and health issues over the past two months.

                Meanwhile, anyone looking for a potentially weird PENTEX plot hook straight out of the sort of 70s and 80s cinema that heavily inspired a lot of the company in the first place can check out Dead Heat, (1988), starring Treat Williams and Joe Piscopo, and with appearances by Vincent Price and Darren McGavin (of Kolchak fame). Basically an 80s buddy cop film - and honestly feels like it's entirely aware of all the genre cliches it's checking off - complicated by the fact that the criminal plot involves reanimated corpses committing crimes. This leads to a shady research company (named Dante Labs; as I said, you can see where this sort of thing was an influence) that has a plan to allow rich people to live forever, or at least as long as they can keep paying. It's cheesy fun, and can be the basis for an interesting chronicle involving Magadon or some related company.


                What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly. That is the first law of nature.
                Voltaire, "Tolerance" (1764)

                Comment


                • Yeah. I guess you could look at video game crunch..?

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                  • Even though it's been months since you broached the subject, since there hasn't been much movement I thought I'd chime in on the wax museums. There is a pretty excellent* short story by Hazel Heald and HP Lovecraft by the name "The Horror in the Museum" which is almost entirely set in a wax museum at night. Of course, this is Lovecraft, so Cthulhian shenanigans ensue, but by and large, this could totally be a Wyrm situation in the Victorian era to the 1920's for the World of Darkness. I have no idea if it's available in print or otherwise anymore, but I'm sure it can be found somewhere, if only in a used book store hidden among the anthology works.








                    *Excellent may be subjective here. You may or may not find it as good as I did.


                    "At the risk of sounding like a murder hobo"

                    Attributed to Nyrufa.

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                    • http://www.hplovecraft.com/writings/...iction/hm.aspx

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                      • Over the last couple of years, Roxxon Energy Corporation has become a mirror image of Pentex. Good job, Marvel.


                        "Steel isn't strong, boy. Flesh is stronger."

                        Comment


                        • This is amazing. Even though I play more Chronicles of Darkness that World of Darkness these days, I consider WtA my "native" game and this material is incredibly useful for any game (or fiction project) involving corrupt corporations.

                          I also thank you for the numerous references to Friday the 13th: the Series. I thought I was the only one who remembered that show! It has had a lasting influence my tastes.
                          I look forward to your next entry!


                          Curios, Relics, and Tomes - A collection of Relics (Cursed and Otherwise)
                          The Horror Lab - A collection of Beasts, Monsters and less definable things.
                          Strange Places - A collection of Dark, Mysterious, and Wondrous Locations
                          Twilight Menagerie - A collection of Ephemeral Entities

                          Comment


                          • Just got done watching the recent Hellboy film.

                            While the film isn't very good, the first 15 minutes was an AWESOME inspiration for the World of Darkness' Extreme Wrestling Warfare organization.


                            "Steel isn't strong, boy. Flesh is stronger."

                            Comment


                            • Economics and Capitalism

                              It's a new year, and I thought I might start by going back to the very basics. Economics is one of those things that tend to be a bit mind numbing, and most people really have no idea about how economies work. Thankfully, there are books for that. And even better, books for people who aren't economists (or at least pretend to be ones on TV) and who have little patience for academic jargon. (This is why I'm not going to get into the various "schools" such as Keynesian, Chicago, Austrian, etc., or the differences in micro and macroeconomics.)

                              Alfred Mill's Economics 101 is part of the Adams 101 series of introductions to various topics, and a decent enough intro to the subject. Also The Economics Book, part of the "Big Ideas Simply Explained" series.

                              Going a little deeper, I personally find Thomas Sowell's work well worth reading. He's part of the more libertarian "Chicago School", but more than that, he's been a prolific writer on economics and the social impact of economic policies for the past several decades. ( I consider his books The Vision of the Anointed and A Conflict of Visions to be must reading for Mage.) His Basic Economics is a fairly easy to read introduction to the topic. Also worth reading is his Economic Facts and Fallacies, and if you really want to dive into the topic, Applied Economics.

                              Economics in One Lesson is by Henry Hazlitt, part of the "Austrian School", which also skews libertarian (likely as a response to the various statist forces that had wrecked Europe at the time this was written in 1947, and of the new wave of statists who had occupied Eastern Europe at the time). This is the same "school" of thought that produced Fredrick Hayek and his book Road to Serfdom, also written around this same time.

                              While not exactly economics, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner's Freakanomics is a really interesting and entertaining look at a number of topics through an economics lens. Including things like why professional sumo wrestling is occasionally fixed and how crack gangs work a lot like fast food franchises. There's also a sequel, Super Freakanomics, as well as two other follow ups, Think Like a Freak, and When to Rob a Bank.

                              Regarding capitalism, Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, written during the Scottish Enlightenment, is one of those cornerstone books of the modern world. Unfortunately, it's a little hard to read. (PJ O'Rourke actually did an entire book about his trying to read Adam Smith, which is easier to read.) Less known is Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments, about the concepts of morality, virtue, and duty, all of which ended up being a foundation for a lot of what he wrote in Wealth of Nations. (Russ Roberts's How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life describes Moral Sentiments as "the greatest self help book that almost no one had read.") There are a few children's books about Smith and his economic theories that explain it in a simple and easy fashion. (Weirdly, he's not part of the Who Was biography series, which annoys me as those are usually pretty good.)

                              However, most of what we see around the world is not capitalism, but crony capitalism (also known as cronyism, corporatism, or just kleptocratism). This is when people in government power rig the system in favor of their friends or donors. Wealthy individuals or large corporations give politicians large sums of money (but its ok because its a campaign donation so it's not a bribe), and in return, when laws or regulations are drafted, the donees make sure that there are loop holes or exceptions for their friends. Or they make sure their donors get those big government contracts. Sometimes it's more subtle than this. A big company, lets say Wal-Mart, might invent a well paying position on it's board of directors and have the Governor's wife of the state they are headquartered in fill that position. And suddenly Wal-Mart is getting a lot of special favors from the state government. Or say you have a Congressmen who is chairman of a powerful committee who's wife runs a consulting firm, and companies that have business impacted by that committee just happen to hire that consulting firm. Or you have an entire Congress drafting a major bill that will radically overhaul how health insurance is handled in the entire country, and all of them just happen to starting buying and selling their stocks in various health and medical investments just before the bill is voted on. That's crony capitalism, which has about as much to do with real capitalism as The Village People did with punk rock.
                              While he is probably most (in)famous for his book Clinton Cash (about how that family had turned crony capitalism into an art form), Peter Schweizer has also written other books about political corruption on both sides of the political spectrum, including Throw Them All Out, Extortion, and Secret Empires.
                              I'm rather irritated that there are no books about the Keating Five scandal in the late 80s. For those two young to remember, this was when five US Senators intervened in a federal regulatory investigation of Charles Keating and his Lincoln Savings and Loan after Keating had made over a million dollars (in 1980s money) in campaign donations to the five men. The S&L later collapsed in 89, taking with it over three Billion dollars of government - meaning US tax payers' - money.

                              That's all for now. I hope to have something about corporate culture in general done in the next week or so.

                              Last edited by No One of Consequence; 01-13-2020, 09:11 PM.


                              What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly. That is the first law of nature.
                              Voltaire, "Tolerance" (1764)

                              Comment


                              • And for those who think the modern cigarette industry is bad, I give you Cocarettes.


                                What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly. That is the first law of nature.
                                Voltaire, "Tolerance" (1764)

                                Comment

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