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  • #76
    Just noting that I added a bit to the post on Hi-Quality Builders and other construction companies about Sick Building Syndrome.


    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


    • #77
      TELLUS ENTERPRISES

      The wide world of video games. As a commercial enterprise, it started in 1972, with the founding of Atari and the release (not by Atari) of the Magnavox Odyssey. Craig D. Lyon has written a book, The Black and White Game Consoles: History of Early Video Games, and there is also Michael Z. Newman's Atari Age: The Emergence of Video Games in America, about the social impact of early video games. For those interested in the history of Atari, there is Curt Vendel and Mary Goldberg's Atari Inc: Business is Fun and Nick Montfort and Ian Bogost's Racing the Beam, as well as the rather pretty to look at Art of Atari by Tim Lapetino. In the early 80s, there was a massive crash of the video game industry which hit Atari pretty hard. The documentary Atari: Game Over (2014) looks at the crash and Atari's legendary burial of thousands of E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial video game cartridges in a New Mexico landfill. (One could easily see a version of this as some sort of bizarre plot by Tellus and Rainbow to corrupt a Caern or other spiritual site.)

      The next phase came with Nintendo and SEGA. Blake J. Harris (the same guy who wrote Moneyball) has done Console Wars, about how Sega became the only company to seriously challenge the NES's near total dominance of the post-Atari home gaming system landscape. There is also Jeff Ryan's Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America, Sam Pettus's Service Games: The Rise and Fall of SEGA, Nathan Altice's I am Error, David Sheff's twenty year old Game Over: How Nintendo Conquered the World, and Dominic Arsenault's Super Power, Spoony Bards and Silverware: The Super Nintendo Entertainment System.

      Sony got into the market with the Playstation. Reiji Asakura's Revolutionaries at Sony: The Making of the Sony Playstation is, oddly, the only book I can find on the history of the system.

      Then came Microsoft with the X-Box. Russel DeMaria's Game of X, which is apparently split into two volumes, is an in depth look at the behind the scenes development of the system.

      As far as development and creation of actual games goes, we have Jason Shreier's Blood Sweat and Pixels and Walt Williams's Significant Zero. Tangentially, there is also David Kushner's Masters of Doom, about the people who created the landmark first person shooter. Activision was the first third-party producer of video games, and they still live on as part of Activision-Blizard, producers of Call of Duty, World of Warcraft and Candy Crush Saga, among others. Electronic Arts is another of the current major companies, having gobbled up the companies which make Mass Effect, The Sims, Angry Birds and others (many of which they've apparently killed after milking dry).

      And for those who just want a simple overall history of the subject, Tristan Donavan's Replay is really good. Also, Dustin Hanson's Game On, Richard Stanton's A Brief History of Video Games, and Johnathon Hennessey's The Comic Book Story of Video Games.

      There are a number of YouTube channels devoted to video games, doing everything from reviews and live streaming to retrospectives and weird trivia. One of my personal favorites is Larry Bundy Jr's/Guru Larry's Fact Hunt. Of special interest is "Five Game Consoles Literally Rotting Away", which gives you a good idea of what kind of plastics Rainbow might be making.

      Fiction-wise, one can't go without mentioning TRON (1982). It ties in well with both Sunburst and Tellus, and the MCP makes an interesting idea of what could easily grow into some sort of malevolent mix of Wyrm spirit and AI. (The 2010 sequel is pretty good too.) Brainscan (1994) is very cheesy, but does offer an idea of the sort of entertainment Tellus and their game developers shoot for. I also admit to having a soft spot for the movie Grandma's Boy (2006), as a few of the characters seem like the sort of lunatics who would go far at PENTEX.

      As for where the video game world is going, and what Tellus might be able to exploit next, David Cronenberg's Existenz (1999) is an excellent film, all the more so for the idea of biologically based computers that plug directly into the players' spines. I have no doubt that many many people at Tellus are currently hard at work to make this a real thing so that they can just start downloading Banes directly into their customers' brains with little to no effort. (I recommend seeing it alongside 1983's Videodrome, which has some really good 80s OMNI stuff.) Also, Ernest Cline's Ready Player One, in either book or film form.

      Regarding Tellus/PENTEX video game products, ones mentioned include Eden Online (World of Warcraft and other MMOs), Biological Warfare (Call of Duty or the various Tom Clancy games), and Clones (the Sims). It's almost certain that Tellus has it's own fighting game, one that makes Mortal Kombat look like an episode of My Little Pony (Death Match?). Most definitely something akin to Grand Theft Auto, only more violent and antisocial (Felonious Assault?). I also imagine them having something akin to Bioware's various RPGs (Wyrm Age might be too on the nose), in which the players are actively encouraged to make the choices that cause the most damage, hurt the most people, and violate societal taboos, likely by offering super cool powers for doing so.

      As far as Fomori breeds go, I imagine "Twitchers" or something like that, violent antisocial sociopaths with super ADHD who go around thinking their in a video game. (One episode from the first or second season of the British tv series The Misfits had something along this line.)

      Last edited by No One of Consequence; 04-14-2018, 08:12 PM. Reason: Spellcheck


      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


      • #78
        ^^^^ Always loved Tellus. Thanks for that, No One. My favorite entry, so far.


        PENTEX SUCKS.

        I'm a gamer. I'm conservative. We exist.

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        • #79
          A BRIEF ASIDE ON PHONES

          Because phones have effectively become our computers, I figured I'd take a brief moment to talk about the subject. For those of you too young to legally run for Congress, the US telephone system used to be a monopoly. AT&T's Bell Telephone System - known colloquially as "Ma Bell" - provided phone service for almost all of the US and Canada for nearly a century, until the US government forced their break up in 1983. The seven regional branches were spun off into their own companies, often referred to as the Baby Bells. MCI (Microwave Communications Inc.), the company that started the lawsuit which broke AT&T, became one of their main long distance competitors, along side Sprint and others. However, with the Telecommunications Act of 1996, this trend was reversed and you started seeing a lot of mergers and buyouts, so that by the mid two thousand teens, there were really only three real long distance telephone companies left, AT&T, Sprint and Verizon. (Comcast cable company's recent efforts to merge with AT&T only continues this trend.)

          When cell phones became a thing in the 90s, you had a number of companies like Motorola and Nokia making them. Personal Data Assistants, like the Palm Pilot, were also a thing. The development of the smart phone has pretty much killed both. Motorola was bought out by Google, and Nokia sold their mobile phone business to Microsoft. From a historical standpoint, this means that any cell phone company PENTEX may have once owned has likely been taken over by Sunburst/Tellus.

          Bookwise, there's a number of books about Nokia, but Yves Doz and Keeley Wilson's Ringtone: Exploring the Rise and Fall of Nokia in Mobile Phones is the most recent and most specific about their phone business.

          A forgotten bit of 60s and 70s culture is what was often called phone phreaking, ie hacking the phone system. Abbie Hoffman and others were contributors to the Youth International Party Line newletter, an underground publication about phreaking. It's first three years have been collected in Hacking Ma Bell: The First Hacker Newsletter. Phil Lapsey's Exploding the Phone The Untold Story of the Teenagers and Outlaws who Hacked Ma Bell is a good history of the subject. If you're doing a game set in the 60s or 70s, especially one with Glasswalkers (or those Mage guys), it might be a fun thing to explore. Likewise the idea of some really old Random Interrupt who was part of that movement in his or her youth.

          (Unrelated, but something some people might find interesting from a civil rights/social justice/etc. perspective is Harry Lang's A Phone of Our Own: The Deaf Insurrection Against Ma Bell about the development of phone systems for the deaf in the 1960s.)

          From a fictional standpoint, Stephen King's Cell is a pretty good book, and the sort of craziness PENTEX might be hoping to create with cell phone networks. I've not read David Jacob Knight's The Phone Company, but it's Tether system sounds like the perfect template for a PENTEX phone system, so I'm going to have to check it out soon. I've never seen any version of One Missed Call, but in a world full of spirits and ghosts, it's the sort of thing that's likely happened more than once.

          Added Apr 25: Also in the realm of now dead cell phone type things is the BlackBerry, which is the subject of Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff's Loosing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry.
          Last edited by No One of Consequence; 04-25-2018, 08:03 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


          • #80
            PENTEX INFORMATION COLLECTION SYSTEM & The INTERNET

            Back in the old days, companies had to work to find out information about potential customers (or enemies); Now people seem perfectly happy to hand it over and even pay for the privilege.

            A generation ago, PENTEX's ICS was a combination super-computer and army of data collectors. Odds are that, a generation before that (back in the 60s and 70s), it was more private investigators with little or no scruples and less computers. I suspect that, if PENTEX had its own version of the Pinkerton Agency (see the post on private security companies), then that was a large part of their job. These days, it's probably 90% computers and only a small number of field workers. Data Mining is the term used for trying to find patterns in large amounts of information, and that's part of what PENTEX's computer system does. The recent rise of Facebook and other forms of social media just make this process even easier via social media mining, web scraping, and other methods. The term coined for all of this is surveillance capitalism. If you can imagine the TV show Person of Interest (2011 - 2016) turned on it's head and the Machine being used for evil, that's probably ICS in a nut shell. Enemy of the State (1998), The Lives of Others (2006), and Eagle Eye (2008) offer some additional ideas on the subject.

            This sort of thing gets into a lot of cyberpunk territory and various ideas from Mage. George Orwell's 1984 is a classic, and one of the aspects of Big Brother is that everyone is watched via cameras and other devices in their TV sets. This suggests the concept of PENTEX secretly watching and spying on their customers via the computers and video game systems produced by Sunburst and Tellus, as well as through cell phones, TVs and other personal electronics, smart watches and anything else they can get people to buy. (Some people are alleging that Amazon and Google are already doing this via the Echo and Home devices, getting them to listen for key words in conversations even when you aren't telling them to do something.) The Dark Knight (2008) touches on this with the use of cell phones to monitor the entire population of the city.

            Non-fiction books on this topic include Julia Angwin's Dragnet Nation, Bruce Schneier's Data and Goliath, Rebecca MacKinnon's Consent of the Networked, Jaron Lanier's Who Owns the Future? (his You Are Not a Gadget and Dawn of the New Everything are also pretty interesting), David Brin's The Transparent Society, and Danial Solove's Nothing to Hide.

            As far as the Internet as a business, AOL was (way back when dinosaurs roamed the web) a big deal. Now, they are not. I will likely talk about them a little more when I get around to OMNI, as I plan to mention the AOL-Time Warner fiasco. Facebook is, of course, the new hotness (at least for the next 14 minutes). Ben Mezrich's The Accidental Billionaires talks about the founding of the company, and the basis for the film The Social Network (2010). The Cambridge Analytical date mining scandal is still ongoing, and topic of articles in various magazines and other sources. There's also Google. Ken Auletta's Googled is interesting, though almost a decade old by now. Also, Stephen Levy's In the Plex.

            Regarding the concept of corporate supercomputers, I've mentioned TRON (1982) before. Also, Hackers (1995) is wonderful 90s cheese, that includes a nice bit of corporate fraud and eco-terrorism. And as bad as it was, Terminator: Genisys (2015) offers up a few ideas. PENTEX's supercomputer system is originally described as being this monstrous thing maintained by Black Spiral Theurges and other Wyrm-witch types, so I suspect that the thing is this massive legendary level bane fetish, perhaps having become some sort of sentient AI-spirit fusion abomination.

            And then there's the dark/deep web, where PENTEX likely has it's own version of something like Dot.Kill (2005) or Feardotcom (2002).

            Added Apr 25: For anyone interested in the history of Twitter, there is Nick Bilton's Hatching Twitter.

            Added May 2: Antonio Martinez's Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley is a fairly interesting and entertaining look behind the scenes of the tech industry. (It's title also makes me think that Chaos Monkeys should be some sort of tech/internet spirit that Glasswalkers enjoy making use of.)



            Next, Project: Odyssey, then soda companies and Young & Smith.
            Last edited by No One of Consequence; 05-02-2018, 04:49 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


            • #81
              PROJECT ODYSSEY

              PENTEX's efforts to create, control and weaponize psychics and psychic abilities. From a personal standpoint, I've always seen this sort of thing as a fitting part of the game, given how much Werewolf initially drew from 1970s environmental horror and weird fiction.

              While PENTEX's work in this area likely only goes back as far as the 1960s and 70s, at least in any major way, there's a pretty long and weird history of the subject.

              Back in the late 18th century, German doctor Franz Mesmer developed the concept of a natural "magnetic" force possessed by all living things, one which could be controlled to produce physical effects such as healing or hypnosis. While it never really got much in the way of scientific validation, it was popular with certain parts of the public, and continued to have an influence on Victorian Age spiritualism and even the 1930s pulp magazines and late 20th century parapsychology. (Parallels have been drawn between it and certain Asian theories involving chakras, chi and other forces.) Robert Darnton's Mesmerism and the End of the Enlightenment is an interesting look at Mesmer's popularity in Paris and it's historical context in the lead up to the French Revolution. I mention this as the sort of thing that Harold Zettler might've been into at the time, and kept up an interest in it, until eventually starting Odyssey. Also, given it's influence on Victorian mysticism, it offers a possible way to tie the Enlightened Society of the Weeping Moon from Werewolf: The Wild West into PENTEX it one wishes to.

              Another area that probably sowed the seeds for Odyssey is the various Nazi efforts to investigate the occult and psychic phenomena. The very excellent GURPS Weird World II touches on some of these subjects (as well as American and Soviet efforts at psychic research). I highly recommend it to anyone interested in setting a game in WW2 or delving into weird legacies of the war. Likewise Ken Hite's The Nazi Occult, which covers everything from the Spear of Destiny to zero point energy. There's a common thread in conspiracy stories (fictional or otherwise) of Nazi researchers into [Subject X] being spirited away after the War, either by some variation of Project Paperclip or a Soviet counterpart to continue their research into the 50s, 60s and 70s. This is the sort of thing that fits in pretty well with PENTEX and it's history, even if one doesn't include a German vampire like Zettler.

              More modernly, Psychic Exploration is a general overview of a number of parapsychology topics by various authors. (It's from 1974, but still rather fascinating.) Also, Annie Jacobsen's Phenomena, about US government projects involving psychics. I've never read Edwin May, Victor Rubel, Joseph McMoneagle, and Loyd Auerbach's ESP Wars: East & West, but it sounds like a fairly interesting account of US and Soviet psychic programs. McMoneagle is apparently/alledgedly a former member of one of said programs, and has written Memoirs of a Psychic Spy.

              Fictionwise, one of the bench marks for weaponized psychics is Stephen King's Firestarter, especially it's secret government organization, The Shop. The Shop also has a brief cameo in The Tommyknockers, and it's plot of ancient malevolent aliens corrupting people via psychic powers also ties in really well with Werewolf on certain levels. (The novel Black House, which King co-wrote with Peter Straub as a sequel to their earlier collaboration The Talisman is, quite honestly, not very good, but it does give a massive info-dump about the Dark Tower cosmology in so far as how servants of the Crimson King try to collect psychokinetics - which they call Breakers - to use their power to eventually tear apart the Crimson King's prison. This raises the idea of PENTEX's Project Odyssey being used, perhaps by Black Spiral Dancers, as part of some long range plan to try to free the Wyrm from it's Weaver-created prison.)

              David Cronenberg's Scanners (1981) deals with a private military contractor's efforts to weaponize psychics, as well as a pharmaceutical company manufacturing a drug that can induce psychic abilities and an underground psychic supremist organization. Both it and Firestarter were clear influences on the Netflix series Stranger Things (2016 - present), which is also a great influence for Odyssey. Dreamscape (1984) is also pretty good, and offers some possible ideas for crossovers with Changeling.

              In the world of RPGs, Palladium's RIFTS series had the Crazy character class, a type of super soldier with enhanced reflexes and psychic powers induced via cybernetic brain implants. Pinacle's Deadlands: Hell on Earth had, IIRC, the Psychers, whose powers were, like most in the game's cosmology, the result of influence by dark spirits, which would make it perfectly in tune with those parts of Odyssey where they try to artificially create psychics using specialized Banes. (With that in mind, people might get some mileage out of William Peter Blatty's The Exorcist as well.)

              Added April 27: One might also get some good mileage out of Minority Report (2002) and it's imprisoned trio of precognitives. The sort of thing Odyssey might have locked up in a lab somewhere as an oracle of future events. Another classic mad science trope for this sort of thing is the "brain in a jar". Ropocop 2 (1990) has one of my favorite practical effect examples of such a thing, complete with still intact eyeballs.

              Also, I was. and still am a huge fan of the late 80s syndicate TV show Friday the 13th: The Series (1987 - 1990) and it's series of cursed antiques. A few of the items offer up potential ideas for Odyssey research projects or weird side effects. "Brain Drain" (ep #18) involves a trepanning machine that sucks the intelligence out of it's victim and transfers Ito to the user. Said user is also involved in a scientific experiment to raise a simian brain in a jar to human levels of intelligence, which is just such a 70s/80s mad science thing to do. ("What are you going to do with a super intelligence ape brain in a jar?" "I don't know; Hook it up to this experimental military robot drone, maybe.") "Better Off Dead" (#41) involves a doctor trying to cure his daughter's psychotic rage state by using a 19th century syringe to suck the sanity out of the brains of prostitutes and inject it into his daughter's brain. I've always believed that PENTEX and Odyssey have ways to actually do this, as well as ways to extract rare or powerful Banes out of broken down fomori and inject them into fresh hosts. And finally, "Stick It In Your Ear" (#57), in which a stage psychic gets a cursed hearing aide which allows him to actually hear thoughts. The catch being that the thoughts being read collect in the hearing aid until they threaten to overwhelm and destroy his brain, unless he fatally inflicts them on an innocent victim. Said hearing aid also starts to take on Cronenberg-like traits, seeming to grow and be in the process of burrowing into his ear and attaching to his brain. This seems like inspiration for the sort of field equipment Odyssey might develop for First Teams or agents, or as experimental Bane-fetishes for made to order security specialists (the ones who always have those Secret Service style ear pieces).
              Last edited by No One of Consequence; 04-27-2018, 07:08 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


              • #82
                I have to say I've been reading this thread as a lurker since you started it, and your write-ups are pretty amazing. You've clearly put a lot of work into these and I, for one, appreciate the time and effort you've put into this.


                "At the risk of sounding like a murder hobo"

                Attributed to Nyrufa.

                Comment


                • #83
                  Thank you. Some of these are easier than others, and a few are surprisingly difficult. I was really kind of amazed that so little has been written, book wise, about the Playstation or X-Box. While I'm sure there are a wealth of magazine articles out there, if I tried to go through a decade or more of Wired back issues, I'd likely lose my mind. That's why I've tried for the most part to restrict myself to stuff that's either in print or available in ebook form, or can be easily found on various streaming services online. The biggest pain in the ass, though, is when I've read something several years ago and can remember some details but not enough to remember the name or author. Autumn Health had one of those, from when I read a number of medical thrillers several years ago, with one that had an absolutely perfect mundane scam for the company to be running using hospital referrals to extended care facilities, and for the life of me I can not remember the title or author, which is just mind-numbingly irritating. (IIRC, the main character was a doctor who also practiced slight of hand as a way to train his hands to be a better surgeon. Even that detail hasn't helped in my searches.) I also confess that I've fallen way behind in my horror fiction reading over the past several years, so there are probably a number of short stories that fit various companies which I've not unearthed. (I did find a rather cool one while researching stuff for soda companies though.)

                  I'll also plug Edgar Cantero's Meddling Kids, which I'm in the middle of reading ATM. It's a nice homage to the old Scooby Doo/Nancy Drew & Hardy Boys style "mystery gang" fiction of the 60s, 70s and 80s, set in 1990 with a now adult group returning to the place they used to spend their summers to reinvestigate their last case, one where something more than "a guy in a mask" happened. The small Oregon town it's set in is a wonderful bit of setting, and I don't think I could come up with a better fictional small town to set a Werewolf game in if I tried. It's got everything from the second deepest lake in the Americas and a creepy mansion built by an allegedly immortal devil worshiping ex-pirate to a shady company that owned the old gold mine and when it ran dry built a chemical plant that is blamed for killing all the town's sheep before it went out of business. I highly recommend it for anyone looking for ways to work PENTEX and other older Wyrm things into a location's history.


                  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


                  • #84
                    The Beverage Industry

                    "Do you mind if I have some of your tasty beverage to wash this down?"
                    - Jules, Pulp Fiction

                    So, the beverage industry is a pretty big field, and I'm really a little surprised PENTEX didn't have one among the major companies list. I'm primarily going to be focusing on the soft drink industry (ie, "Big Soda").

                    One of the better general histories of the industry I've read is Tristan Donovan's Fizz. (If his name sounds familiar, it's because he's also done books on the history of video games and of board games, which I've cited under Tellus and Avalon, respectively.)

                    The two biggest companies are Coke and Pepsi. As they are the biggest, Coke has had more written about it, and gets targeted more for criticism. Michael Blanding's The Coke Machine: The Dirty Truth Behind the World's Favorite Soft Drink is the most critical, while Mark Pendergrast's For God, Country and Coca-Cola is a more general and in-depth history of the company and it's flagship product. Frederick Allen's Secret Formula and Bartow J. Elmore's Citizen Coke are also interesting. Much less has been written about PepsiCo. I'm trying to get hold of a copy of J.C. Lewis and Harvey Z. Yazikian's The Cola Wars: The Story of the Global Battle between the Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo, Inc. (It was published in 1980, so is 40 years out of date, and like a lot of books about businesses at the time is probably aimed more at MBA business manager types than at the casual reader, but it is, from what I've heard, a pretty solid history of Pepsi up to that point.) Bob Stoddard's Pepsi: 100 Years is also about 20 years old, and more of a pictorial history of the brand's advertising, but interesting in its own way.

                    (Not really in the PENTEX wheelhouse, but the sort of thing some people might find interesting is Stephanie Capparell's The Real Pepsi Challenge, about the company's first African-American managers during the 1940s and 50s, and the company's rather landmark shift in how it marketed itself to the African-American community.)

                    So, an interesting thing I learned while researching this post is that the two biggest orange juice brands in the US, Minute Maid and Tropicana, are owned by Coke and Pepsi, respectively. Alissa Hamilton's Squeezed: What You Don't Know about Orange Juice covers the subject fairly well. Apparently a lot of the oranges used in said industry actually come from Brazil, which may offer a potential plot hook for any games using Rage Across the Amazon.

                    Both companies also make their own bottled water, which is a huge business which, for our purposes, produces a massive amount of plastic bottle waste. Tony Clarke's Inside the Bottle: An Expose of the Bottled Water Industry is ten years old, but gives a good starting point. Also, Peter Gleick's Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water and Elizabeth Royte's Bottlemania: Big Business, Local Springs and the Battle Over America's Drinking Water.

                    Weirdly, I can't find much book-wise on either sports drinks or energy drinks. But both make up a sizable slice of both companies business, so any PENTEX beverage company would have brands for both. (I like to think that their energy drink would be called FREAK, just so their marketing campaign would encourage customers to "Join the FREAK Legion!")

                    (I'm saving the subject of tea and coffee for later.)

                    Fictionally, for a humorous look at things, episode one of the fifth season of Daria, "Fizz Ed", involves the subject of soda machines in schools taken to ludicrous extremes. Likewise, the "Slurm" episode of Futurama gives the idea of some sort of soda or energy drink derived from milking some sort of Wyrm creature (with Mark Hamill as their spokesperson.)
                    I've never read Dennis Barton's Cola Wars, but the premise sounds entertaining and potentially good inspiration for PENTEX trouble shooters. I'm waiting for my copy of Jonathan Chateau's "Energy Drink" (a novella available in print as part of Nightmares in Analog), and the concept sounds like exactly the sort of product PENTEX would sell.


                    For those interested in starting your own beverage business, see Power Brands, who claim to be America's leading drink industry consultants.

                    Added Apr 25: An additional bit of historical trivia is that PepsiCo, through their Yum! Brands subsidiary, owns Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC, among others (and used to own Long John Silvers). I've long suspected PENTEX of having far more of a stake in the restaurant business than just O'Tolley's. Given how it was once stated that Louisianna's Cajun population had a large number of Black Spiral Dancer kinfolk - I want to say this was in New Orleans by Night, but can't recall specifically - I have this image of some sort of chain that is to Cajun cuisine what Taco Bell is to TexMex. But this is because I'm deeply weird.
                    Last edited by No One of Consequence; 04-25-2018, 08:15 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


                    • #85
                      YOUNG AND SMITH, INCORPERATED

                      Anchorwoman: Six new deaths, with no clues as to the Joker's deadly weapon.
                      Anchorman: And what is the pattern? Food,
                      alcohol, or beauty and hygiene products? Cologne, mouthwash, underarm deodorant?
                      Anchorwoman: Or worse yet, there may be no pattern. The search goes on through Gotham's shopping nightmare.

                      - Batman (1989)


                      Described as PENTEX's third largest company, perhaps because of the ubiquity of their products. They are, it seems, meant to be Johnson & Johnson and Proctor & Gamble. Both are defined, loosely, as sellers of "consumer packaged goods/personal care companies". There are also some similarities to food manufacturing companies such as Kellogg's and General Mills, as well as Nestle and Quaker Oats (which is also owned by PepsiCo; I swear, the more you look into this stuff, the more of a Gordian knot crossbred with an octopus it comes across as).

                      So, starting with J&J, their formation was partially inspired by Joseph Lister's Victorian Era crusade for the use of antiseptics, which is either ironic or fitting (I can't make up my mind) that that they now own and make Listerine mouthwash. In addition, they make Band-Aids, Tylenol, Neosporin, Mylanta, Clean & Clear dermatology products, Bengay, One Touch blood glucose monitors, Sudafed (the stuff they used to make crystal meth from), Visine, Nicorette, Acuvue contact lenses, and Neutrogena brand skin and hair care/cosmetics. They also have a huge range of subsidiaries that deal with medical devices, but that's more of an Autumn Health or even Magadon thing.

                      P&G is even older, going back to 1837. They are the people who make Crest toothpaste, Bounty paper towels, Tide, Gain and Ariel laundry detergents (and a lot more), Head & Shoulders, Joy, Dawn and Ivory dishwashing liquids, Always and Tampax, Clairiol, Pantene, Vidal Sassoon, Scope, Vicks, Gillette, Metamusal, Pepto-Bismal, Cascade, Swiffer, Febreze, Bounce, Ivory soap, and Luvs and Pampers. Brands they used to own but have sold include Crisco, Crush soda, Duncan Hines, Folgers coffee, Noxzema, Pringles, Spic and Span, Sunny Delight, ThermaCare and Top Job. (You start to understand why it's said that almost everyone has something from Young & Smith in their homes.)

                      Kellogg's brands include Pringles, Pop-Tarts, Cheez-It, Nutri-Grain, Famous Amos, Keebler, Town House, Eggo, Morning Star Farms, and Little Brownie Bakers (who make all the Girl Scout Cookies - imagine something on that scale as a PENTEX Wyrm plot), as well as more cereal brands that you can shake a dead goat at. General Mills makes breakfast cereals as well as Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, Bisquick, Fruit Roll Ups, Gold Medal Flour, Chex mix, Hamburger Helper, Old El Paso, Fiber One, Yoplait, Totino's (pizza related), Progresso soups, and Gardettos. Nestle owns Gerber, Toll House, Cerelac, Perier, Deer Park, Ozarka and Poland Springs bottle water (among others), Golden Grahams, Shredded Wheat, NesQuick, Baby's Ruth, Butterfinger, Raisenets, Coffee-Mate, Nestea, California Pizza Kitchen, Eskimo Pie, Tombstone, Fancy Feast, Beggin Strips, and Tender Vittles.

                      I'll also make a note of Frito-Lay, who are also owned by PepsiCo, make Fritos, Lays, Doritos, Rold Gold pretzels, Tostitoes, Cheetos, Smart Chips, and Cracker Jacks.

                      Then there is Kraft Foods, makers of Kool Aid, Velveeta, Jell-O, Planters, Maxwell House, Oscar Mayer, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Grey Poupon, and Clauson pickles in addition to their Mac and Cheese and Singles cheese slices. (Back in the 80s, they were purchases by Philip Morris, the cigarette makers, which is just weird. Now they are merged with Hienz, the ketchup people who also own Ore-Ida frozen potato products.)

                      And one most people have never heard of, Mondelez Internation, out of Illinois, who currently make all Nabisco stuff including Fig Newtons, Chips Ahoy, Wheat Things and others, all Cadbury brand confections, Tang, and a lot of gum (Dentyne, Trident, and others).

                      And finally, in the realm of snack foods, we also have McKey, makers of Little Debbie, and Hostess, who also make Dolly Madison.

                      Right off the bat, I'll talk about the Proctor & Gamble logo legend, that it's secretly full of Satanic symbolism and signifies that the company is actually doing Satan's bidding. It was a rumor started by Amway, allegedly. I like to believe that Young & Smith's logo is, in fact, full of secret symbolism of the Wyrm or other dark forces. I've also long considered the possibility that, along this idea thread, that the founders of Young & Smith were, in fact, members of the Circle of Red, the sect of diabolic witches and wizards first (very briefly) alluded to in the Black Spiral Dancer chapter of the 1st ed Book of the Wyrm and later heavily expanded on in the Dark Ages Devil's Due sourcebook. Alternately, one may also find certain things to play with in the Earthbound material from Demon: The Fallen, if crossovers are up your alley. This possible tie to the Circle of Red, combined with Proctor & Gamble's age, is one reason why I think Young and Smith is a prime candidate to be one of PENTEX's five founding companies along side Premium Oil/Endron.

                      For those wanting to read more about processed foods, I offer Melanie Warner's Pandora's Lunchbox: How Processed Food Took Over the American Meal, Mark Schatzker's The Dorito Effect (about the "flavor industry" that tries to artificially replace the natural flavors that've been bred or leached out of modern food by industrial processing), Steve Ettlinger's Twinkie Deconstructed (looking at the ingredient list of a Twinkie and just what each of those things are and where they come from), Michael Moss's Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us, Alexandra Kastor's Salt Sugar Fat: Explore the Dark Side fo the All-American Meal, and Marion Nestle's Food Politics.

                      In the world of health care products, I will first plug Nora Ephron's 1970s essay "Dealing With the Uh, Problem" (part of her book Crazy Salad), talking about "feminine hygiene sprays" and how they were largely the creation of advertisers looking for a new product to convince women they needed. Here's an interesting article about the modern subject from a UK feminist' site, The F Word. If you are really into the subject, about the only book I can find on it is Elizabeth Kissling's Capitalizing on the Curse, which is apparently one of those college published books by one of their professors. (This kind of surprises me, as I would've expected at least one or more popular books on the history of feminine hygiene to be out there.)

                      Jerry Oppenhiemer's Crazy Rich: Power Scandal and Tragedy Inside the Johnson & Johnson Dynasty is about the history of the family and their current descendants, which can offer ideas on the people behind Young & Smith. Alecia Swasy's Soap Opera: The Inside Story of Proctor & Gamble talks about their history and some of the darker sides of the company. Scott Bartz's The Tylenol Mafia is about the 1982 Chicago Tylenol murders and some of J&J's allegedly questionable actions in the case. Howard Markel's The Kelloggs: The Battling Brothers of Battle Creek is a history of the founders of the company. TC Boyle's The Road to Wellville is a fictional look at the Battle Creek Sanitarium at the turn of the century, and was made into an entertaining film in 1994. (Consider crossbreeding this with the recent A Cure for Wellness as some sort of freakish turn of the century health spa that turns people into fomori or Wyrm cultists.)

                      Roland Dahl's iconic Charlie and the Chocolate Factory can make for interesting inspiration for a PENTEX Young & Smith subsidiary company (or separate company), with it's weird owner, his army of deformed slaves and a love for tormenting children. I personally prefer 1971's Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory over the 2005 remake, but YMMV. (One of the NPCs in the back of KotE's Devil Tigers dharma book is supposed to be a Japanese version of Willie Wonka.)

                      I quote Batman (1989) in the beginning because I always thought that it's idea of binary or trinary chemical poisons implanted in personal care products, where one has to use the right combination of products to get the desired harmful effect, was a good idea for Young & Smith. The right mix of certain foods or products attracts certain types of Banes or even invites possession and fomori creation. Tying in with the magic/witchcraft angle above, this might involve the use of certain types of alchemy or herbalism passed down from the Dark Ages.

                      And, finally, there is The Stuff (1985), a bit of schlock horror about an addictive yogurt like snack that is actually a living and possibly sentient parasitic organism that turns it's consumers into zombies before dissolving them into more "stuff". The film really is bizarre to the point of being barking mad, but does offer some ideas that fit well with Werewolf and PENTEX.

                      Added May 5: I forgot to mention Malcolm Gladwell's What the Dog Saw, which includes an interesting chapter on why we have dozens of variations of mustard but only one basic type of ketchup.

                      Also, some might find Andrew Smith's Pure Ketchup: A History of America's National Condiment interesting just for historical trivia, as well as Quentin Skrabec's HJ Heinz: A Biography. And Rosamond Man and Robin Weir's The Mustard Book. (As I've said before, I'm the sort of weird dork who finds these sort of things endlessly fascinating.)

                      In the world of chocolate, there is Michael D'Antino's Hershey: Milton S. Hershey's Extraordinary Life of Wealth Empire and Utopian Dreams, Deborah Cadbury's interesting history Chocolate Wars, Sofie Coe's The True History of Chocolate, Orla Ryan's Chocolate Nations: Living and Dying for Cocoa in West Africa, Peter Kurie's In Chocolate We Trust: The Hersey Company Town Unwrapped, and Carol Off's Bitter Chocolate: Anatomy of an Industry.
                      (I sort of have this image in my head of a PENTEX chocolate company started by a 19th century utopian who went off the rails, turning into an evil version of Willie Wonka, building his business on the brutal exploitation of West African farmers while every ten years he lures several company town children to his factor with golden tickets so he can sacrifice them to some sort of Aztec Wyrm entity for life extension and financial success.)

                      Dick Burhan's Crunch: A History of the Great American Potato Chip is a really good one, especially as it looks at the 1990s federal investigations into price fixing and other illegal activities that radically changed the business.
                      Last edited by No One of Consequence; 05-05-2018, 08:29 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


                      • #86
                        Just noting that I finished up Young & Smith, and made a few updates to Odyssey, soda and phones. I'm hoping to do OMNI, the chemical industry, and a bit about AESOP that would also cover most other non-meat animal/pet businesses (pet food, horse racing, guard dogs, etc.) over the next week or so. Also working out something on small niche businesses, like martial arts schools and gyms, that are just too fun not to include in PENTEX.


                        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


                        • #87
                          AESOP RESEARCH COMPANY and All Things Animal

                          So, AESOP was one of those things that was really and truly an artifact of the early 90s, which was probably why the company wasn't in the list of top subsidiaries when the 2nd ed of Book of the Wyrm came out a few years later. For those of you who weren't around then, anti-animal testing became a cause celeb in the late 80s and early 90s. It kind of went hand in hand with the anti-fur movement. (PETA actually put out a charity album in 1991, called Tame Yourself, with contributions from a number of left-of-center progressive alt rock bands like the B-52s, REM, and so forth. I actually bought a copy at the time and still have it somewhere.) I think Peter Singer's Animal Liberation was, in 1975, one of the first big "animal rights"' books, talking about factory farming, animal testing and other topics as he decried human "speciesism". One of the more recent books on the subject is Melanie Joy (PhD)'s Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Were Cows. I've never read it, but if you're interested in the topic, you may find it informative.

                          (One of my biggest pet peeves with AESOP is that the name is just so on the nose that it borders on being twee. I have similar issues with RED Network from the WW20 material.)

                          Interestingly, there are a number of kids books (late grade school and jr. high) on the subject of animal testing that present both sides of the issue (in regards to medical testing; I don't think anyone - save the Chinese government - seriously advocates for using animals to test make up anymore). Lois Stepahban's Animal Testing: Live-Saving Research vs Animal Welfare and Gail Terp's The Debate About Animal Testing: Pros and Cons are two examples.

                          On the other side of the coin, there is Wesley Smith's A Rat is a Pig is a Dog is a Boy, a criticism of the excesses of the "animal rights" movement and the apparent "anti-humanism" of some of it's more radical fringe elements.

                          From a fictional standpoint, Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly's graphic novel WE3 is about a trio of animals (dog, cat and rabbit) who've been turned into the prototypes for a series of cybernetic animal weapon systems, and make a run for the mythical "home" when they realize they're going to be put down now that the testing phase of the project is over. It's the sort of darkly weird thing PENTEX has probably tried at least once. Likewise, the movie Man's Best Friend (1993), in which a dangerously naive journalist decides to free a canine test animal from a lab not knowing it's actually a genetically engineered and cybernetic enhanced death machine. This is probably more in line with some of PENTEX's more successful projects.

                          Criminally, there is also the strange world of exotic animal smuggling. Peter Laufer has written a couple of books on the subject, including The Dangerous World of Butterflies (I had no idea that butterfly smuggling was a thing until I came across this book) and Forbidden Creatures: Inside the World of Animal Smuggling and Exotic Pets. (He's also written a book No Animals Were Harmed: The Controversial Line Between Entertainment and Abuse, about the use of animals in entertainment, historically and modern day, and around the world.) Jessica Speart has also written about butterfly smuggling in Winged Obsession: The Pursuit of the World's Most Notorious Butterfly Smuggler. Jennie Smith's Stolen World: A Tale of Reptiles, Smugglers and Skullduggery and Bryan Christy's The Lizard King: The True Crimes and Passions of the World's Greatest Reptile Smugglers also cover the subject. (This sort of thing can easily end up involving various Fera trying to run down kidnapped Kinfolk, which could be the basis for a one shot multi-breed game.)

                          On the subject of pet stores, the ugly secret that came out several years ago was that most stores - especially the ones you used to see In malls back when they were a thing - is that they got their puppies (and kittens) from puppy mills. Kim Kavin's The Dog Merchants, Rory Kress's The Doggie In the Window, and Jackie Skole's Dogland all look at the subject. Dean Koontz has also brought up the issue of trying to rehabilitate rescue dogs, especially breeder dogs from puppy mills that have no socialization even among other dogs, let alone people, in some of his books (Darkest Evening of the Year is one of the main ones, IIRC; I also highly recommend his A Big Little Life, his non fiction book about his dog.) Koontz's novel Watchers is also really good, and involves a pair of genetically engineered animals. (Do not bother with the awful movie version as it is essentially an adaption in name only.)

                          From pets to pet food. If PENTEX makes pet food (and Young & Smith may), you can bet that it's pure garbage and probably bad for your pet too. Susan Thixton's Buyer Beware: The Crimes Lies and Truth about Pet Food and Marion Nestle's Pet Food Politics talk about the issue.

                          Finally, there's the issue of animals in entertainment. Zoos in the World of Darkness are probably more backwards than they are in the real world. Nigel Rothfel's Savages and Beasts: The Birth of the Modern Zoo is a look at the origins of our idea of zoos in the 19th century, while Robert Hoage's New Worlds, New Animals looks at the evolution of private menageries to modern zoos. Linda Simon's The Greatest Shows on Earth is a history of the circus over the last few centuries. And tangentially, Eric Scigliano's Love War and Circuses, about the history of human relations with elephants. Also the 2013 film Blackfish.


                          Added May 5: I'll start with a fairly good one, Fierce Creatures (1997), which is the spiritual successor to 1988's A Fish Called Wanda. I recommend both films if you've never seen them (Wanda is better but both are entertaining). Creatures involves Jamie Lee Curtis as an employee of megacorp Octopus Inc (the name alone makes it worthy of PENTEX referencing) assigned to run a newly acquired zoo and develop a business model that can be applied to other zoos the company might buy. Farce ensues.

                          The X-Files episode "Fearful Symmetry" involves experiments being performed on animals at zoos with bizarre side effects.

                          Stephen Conte's The Zookeeper's War and Diane Ackerman's The Zookeepers Wife both deal with zoos in Nazi controlled Europe during WW2 and may provide ideas for historical chronicles. Also, Sara Gruen's Water for Elephants (or it's film adaption).

                          I am kicking my self for initially forgetting Robert O'Brian's classic Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM, which is really must-reading for Ratkin. The 1982 Don Bluth animated adaption is also pretty good, but changes a lot of things and doesn't go into as much detail about the rats' experiences in the lab.

                          Also, Richard Adams's The Plague Dogs, about a pair of dogs who escape from a testing lab.

                          Aligator (1980) remains a long time favorite of mine, as it involves a giant mutant alligator in Chicago (allegedly, as it was filmed in LA and everyone seems to have Missouri license plates). Said alligator is the result of a local company paying some low life to kidnap house pets to use as test subjects for their experimental animal growth hormones then dumping the dead carcasses in the sewers. Henry Silva's bizarre turn as a big game hunter hired to track the beast through the city only makes what is already wonderfully weird even better.

                          Monkeyshines (1988) involves a paralyzed man who develops a psychic bond with his service monkey with murderous results. Also Link (1986), about a super intelligent murderous orangutan.

                          I haven't talked about horses yet. Anna Sewell's Black Beauty is a classic about the treatment of horses in the Victorian Era. Laura Hillenbrand's Seabiscuit is an entertaining look at early 20th century horse racing (including the time that Tijuana was attacked by a giant moving mountain of horse manure). Also Lawrence Scanlan's The Horse that God Built: The Untold Story of Secretariat. The Bond film A View to a Kill (1985) involves a subplot in the first half involving the use of adrenaline releasing implants in race horses. It doesn't go in to a lot of details, but it's the sort of thing PENTEX might test on animals before trying them out on First Team members. And I've never read - or really know what to make of - CuChullaine's O'Reiley's Deadly Equines: The Shocking True Story of Meat-Eating and Murderous Horses.


                          Last edited by No One of Consequence; 05-05-2018, 09:44 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


                          • #88
                            A few additions in the realm of cosmetics (Siren) and personal care (Young & Smith) items:

                            Ruth Winter's A Consumer's Dictionary of Cosmetic Ingredients explains just what the various ingredients in make up products are, if you've ever wanted to know just what it is you're putting on your face and skin. (The seventh edition came out in 2009 I think, and I'm not sure if a new edition has been published since then.) Also Varinia Michalun and Joseph DiNardo's Skin Care and Cosmetic Ingredients Dictionary (it's 4th edition from 2014). And I mentioned it under Siren but I'll repeat it for Young & Smith, Stacy Malkan's Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry, as it involves personal care products such as shampoo and soap as well as makeup. Likewise Samuel Epstein's Toxic Beauty: How Cosmetics and Personal Care Products Endanger Your Health.

                            African American hair and beauty products are in some ways an industry unto itself. Bronner Bros. is one of the largest producers for such products in the United States. Ayana Byrd and Lori Tharp's Hair Story is an interesting history of African American hair and it's place in culture and politics. Also the documentaries Good Hair (2010) and My Nappy Roots (2008). Maxine Craig's Ain't I a Beauty Queen?: Black Women, Beauty and the Politics of Race is also an interesting history of the intersections of personal appearance and politics through the 20th century. Tananarive Drive's The Black Rose is a biography Madam CJ Walker, America's first black woman millionaire who founded a hugely successful beauty care business in the 19th century. A'Lelia Bundles's On Her Own Ground is another book about her. And more humorously, Coming to America (1988) has the Jenks family and their SoulGlo dynasty.

                            And then the area of "family planning". Aine Collier's The Humble Little Condom: A History is a look at the object from ancient Egypt to the modern day. And as a weird historical bit, Gotz Aly and Michael Sontheimer's Fromms, about the German Jewish entrepreneur who was forced to sell his condom company to the Nazis for a fraction of it's worth before fleeing to Britain.

                            And also the company Unilever, who own Ben & Jerry's, Slim-Fast, Dove, Lipton and others.



                            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


                            • #89
                              OMNI TELEVISION

                              We deal in *illusions*, man! None of it is true! But you people sit there, day after day, night after night, all ages, colors, creeds... We're all you know. You're beginning to believe the illusions we're spinning here. You're beginning to think that the tube is reality, and that your own lives are unreal. You do whatever the tube tells you! You dress like the tube, you eat like the tube, you raise your children like the tube, you even *think* like the tube!
                              - Howard Beale, Network (1976)


                              The wonderful world of cable television. Omni is originally described as being a network, singular, which, even by the time Book of the Wyrm 2nd ed came out, was already a bit on an anachronism. Nearly every network on cable 20 years ago was part of a mass of channels owned by a conglomerate. So, more realistically, Omni should be this massive octopus of multiple networks all burrowing their way into the heads of the public. As a partial rundown, in the real world, we have NBCUniversal (who own SyFy, Oxygen, Bravo, USA Network, E!, NBC Sports, NBC News, MSNBC, and Telemundo as well as a few dozen international channels, part of Major League Baseball Network and National Hockey League Network, Hulu, Fandango, Universal Studios and their theme parks, Dreamworks and more; they are themselves a subsidiary of Comcast Cable and NBC used to be owned by General Electric), 21st Century Fox (FX, FXX, FXM, Fox Sports, National Geographic, Fox News, Fox Business, and FOX network, as well as 20th Century Fox, part of Hulu and Sky, as well as a bunch of international channels), Disney-ABC (ABC, Freeform, Disney Channel, ESPN, and part of A&E, History Channel, and Lifetime), Time-Warner (who as owners of Ted Turner's former media empire have TBS, TNT, CNN, Headline News, Cartoon Network, Boomerang, Turner Classic Movies, and TruTV, in addition to the HBO networks) and Viacom (Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, BET, TV Land, CMT, and Logo; CBS was part of Viacom until they recently spilt into two companies). The CW network is co-owned by CBS and Time-Warner. So, basically, six companies own everything on TV. And most of these are tied in to movie studios and publishing companies. This means that six companies and their corporate cultures pretty much dictate what makes it to television, books, magazines and so forth. Which is probably why finding books aimed at the general public exposing the dirty laundry of television networks, studios, newsrooms, and the like is a struggle. Most books about the history of cable television are college media studies/mass comm text books (which makes them ludicrously expensive even in e-book form) or are less than critical bios of people in the industry (yes, I'm talking about Ted Turner).

                              Historically, cable got it's real start in the 70s. Ted Turner's TBS Superstation and CNN were landmarks. Hank Whittemore's CNN: The Inside Story is almost 30 years old now, but does give an account of the new channel's creation and some of Turner's more grandiose plans at the time. There's also Reese Schonfeld's Me and Ted Against the World: The Unauthorized Story of the Founding of CNN (which is only 20 years old). There's been a number of books about Ted Turner over the years, but Ken Auletta's Media Man is probably one of the more balanced and more recent (as it talks about his fall from grace after the AOL/Time-Warner debacle). Auletta's also done a number of other works on the media industry, including Three Blind Mice: How the TV Networks Lost Their Way, about the behind the scenes problems with the major networks in the 1980s. I'll also mention Bill Mesce's Inside the Rise of HBO.

                              More in the realm of creating content, there's Bill Carter's Desperate Networks, about the four major networks during the 2000s and the struggles they were having. He's also written two books about late night talk shows, The Late Shift, from 1995 about Jay Leno becoming host of the Tonight Show and David Letterman defecting to CBS, and The War For Late Night, from 2011 about Leno's failed foray into prime time and Conan O'Brian's having the rug pulled out from under him.

                              From a more fictional look at the industry, I quote the film Network (1976) because it's a classic about how low networks might sink just for ratings. From the 80s, I consider David Cronenberg's Videodrome (1983)a must see, with James Woods as the rather sleazy head of a Toronto TV station using pirated satellite transmissions to find new and more shocking programing for his station, only to find himself either sucked into a bizarre conspiracy or else loosing his grip on reality. More on the comedic side is Soapdish (1991) about the chaos and backstabbing behind the scenes of a day time soap opera. Bamboozled (2000) is a Spike Lee movie about a network executive tired of having his efforts to create black characters in positive and intelligent shows shot down gives up and pitches a modern minstrel show. The film is kind of a mixed bag, but does raise a number of issues worth thinking about, even if it doesn't quite seem to know what to do with them. The Truman Show (1998) is the idea of reality television taken to it's logical extreme. And then there is one of my personal favorites, The Running Man (1987), with condemned criminals hunted for the entertainment of the masses. (I'm really shocked they haven't made a remake of it, but if they did, odds are it would miss the point more than the Total Recall one did.) The film is based - loosely - on a really early novel Stephen King wrote under his Richard Bachman pen name, which is radically different but still an interesting read. 2007's The Condemned does something similar (by way of Battle Royale) but honestly isn't as fun as watching Richard Dawson chew scenery. And speaking of fun, I am also a huge fan of Weird Al Yankovic's UHF (1989), not least of which for Kevin McCarthy's turn as an evil TV station owner.

                              The main evil attributed to Omni in Book of the Wyrm is the use of subliminal programing to influence and brainwash viewers. August Bullock's The Secret Sales Pitch is more in the realm of conspiracy theory than actual fact, but offers some curious ideas. He's interviewed as part of a "documentary" Programing the Nation?. John Carpenter's They Live (1988) is one of the better portrayals of blatantly over the top subliminal mind control via media. Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982) is a rather mixed bag, but does offer a weird idea for a potentially more out there PENTEX plot via television signals. David Warner's Freeze Frame is too recent for me to have read yet, but does involve the use of subliminal advertising to impact a presidential election.


                              Added: A few of the text books I noted above, for those who feel like delving into them; Cable Visions: Television Beyond Broadcasting, The Columbia History of American Television, Television and American Culture, We Now Disrupt This Broadcast: How Cable Transformed Television and the Internet Revolutionized It All, and Blue Skies: A History of Cable Television. Also, Seth Shapiro's Television: Innovation, Disruption and the World's Most Powerful Medium, and David Thompson's Television: A Biography.

                              As far as the cable industry itself goes, there is Mark Robichaux's Cable Cowboy and LJ Davis's The Billionaire Shell Game, both about John Malone and the development of the 90s cable era.

                              Richard Hack's Clash of the Titans, about Ted Turner and Rupert Murdock, is fifteen years old now, but does give an interesting account of the two men's careers and business empires up to that point.

                              I mentioned the AOL-Time Warner merger, and it is documented and dissected in Alec Klien's Stealing Time, Nina Munk's Fool's Rush In, and Kara Swisher's There Must Be A Pony In Here Somewhere.

                              Brian Stelter's Top of the Morning is a look at the cut throat world of morning television programing.

                              From a historical standpoint, the documentary Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession is about one of the early pay television channels in LA in the 1970s.

                              John Morgan Wilson's Inside Hollywood: A Writers Guide to Researching the World of Movies and TV is a good general overview and reference book of the industry for those wanting to set stories within it.

                              Harlan Elison's The Glass Teat is a collection of his essays and opinion columns about the state of television in the 1960s and 70s, much of it surprisingly relevant even today. Likewise Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death, about the impact of television on politics and public discourse.

                              There's also the rise of streaming entertainment services. I mentioned how Hulu is co-owned by two of the major media conglomerates, and there's also Netflix, which has weirdly managed to keep it's independence. Gina Keeting's Netflixed gives a good overview of their history.

                              And, as an example of what happens when I think about too many different things at once (in this case, Videodrome, The Ring, an old episode of Friday the 13th: The Series about a cursed TV set, and the subject of electronic voice phenomenon) it occurs to me that in the World of Darkness, it's entirely possible that at one point or another, Omni or someone else has experimented with the idea of broadcasting material made in the realms of the dead - by Sandmen, Spectres or what have you - through the TV sets or computers of the living, likely for nefarious purposes.
                              Last edited by No One of Consequence; 05-20-2018, 06:37 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


                              • #90
                                I hope to have my chemical industry post finished tomorrow night, at which point I will be taking a week off for real life stuff, then return with a bit about the fitness and hotel/hospitality industries.

                                Meanwhile, please enjoy this advertisement for fine PENTEX approved meat products.


                                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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