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  • PENTEX: Research & Inspiration Company by Company

    So, because it came up in another thread, I thought it might be useful to start a thread looking at the various PENTEX subsidiaries and offering up various fictional and non-fictional sources of information and inspiration about each one. That being the history of those industries, interesting events or scandals, corporate cultures, various criticisms (legitimate or otherwise) of the business, and any fictional works that give ideas for potential plot hooks or horrors for the Garou to stumble upon and fight.

    If anyone has any suggestions that I missed, I will gladly add them to each company's listing. Thank you in advance.

    I figure I'll start with the Wikipedia article on Holding Companies, which is what PENTEX is supposed to be, and people can chase links from there to their heart's content.

    Added: As far as corporate culture goes, PENTEX was heavily influenced by the original Robocop (1987) and it's sequel Robocop 2 (1990). (The second one is not as good as the first one, but does continue the wonderful examples of corporate backstabbing and throwing people under the bus.) Also, Michael Crichton's Rising Sun and Disclosure. (The film versions of these are OK, but the books get more in to corporate culture and its pitfalls.)

    More Added: As mentioned by Crowley, the current series Mister Robot also offers up some potential PENTEX ideas.

    ENDRON INTERNATIONAL (Oil, Petroleum and other forms of Energy)

    So, they're the original seed of the whole thing. Hence, it's probably a good idea to understand the history of the petroleum business. For that, I offer up Daniel Yergin's The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power, a look at the oil industry up until 1990, and it's follow up, The Quest: Energy, Security and the Remaking of the Modern World, which game out in 2011. Also, Upton Sinclair's classic Oil!, which was one of the inspirations for the movie There Will Be Blood (2007). And, of course, no book about the energy industry would be complete without Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind's The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron (which also has a film version). I haven't seen Deepwater Horizon (2016) yet, so can't comment on it.

    Fiction-wise, the X-Files did a long running thread about an alien virus that thrived in earth's underground petroleum supply, which tied into a number of other business-related conspiracy angles.

    More Added: I've not read Adam Baker's Outpost, about the small crew of an Arctic Ocean oil rig during a global pandemic (and possible zombie apocalypse), but it does get good word of mouth from people I usually find trustworthy. I suspect one can get at least a few ideas about Endron workers going stir crazy or Garou trying to take over an oil platform out of it.

    China Mieville wrote a short story, Covenhithe, as something for The Guardian's anniversary coverage of Deepwater Horizon. I won't spoil it, but it's weird in the way that Mieville's stories usually are, and would make a rather odd chronicle idea.

    Quantum of Solace (2008) involves some oil industry shenanigans, but mostly as part of a larger unrelated conspiracy.

    Ida Tarbell's The History of Standard Oil is a period classic that shaped the way pretty much everyone remembered John D. Rockefeller and his rise to power.

    Knowledge Hub on YouTube has a pretty good summery of Rockefeller here.

    And if you feel up for binge viewing, try finding the tv show Dallas (1978-1991). J.R. Ewing is the early 80s poster boy for the Magnificent Bastard trope, and the sort of man who should be running a PENTEX subsidiary.

    Modern Marvels did a number of episodes about the oil industry (3:07 Oil; 5:10 The Alaskan Oil Pipeline; 6:26 Offshore Oil Drilling; 9:31 Gasoline; 11:08 Oil Firefighting; 11:30 Oil Tankers; 12:41 Lube Job), most of which can probably be found at various places online.

    Outside of their original business of oil, there's also the realm of natural gas. There are more than a few films critical to natural gas production, especially hydraulic fracturing. I can't conscientiously call these documentaries, as these sorts of films usually start with a preselected point of view to push and carefully craft the presentation to sway viewers to that point of view. I believe the proper term for this is "propaganda". That said, they are certainly mineable for ideas of stuff Endron might be up to which Garou can uncover. (I think Gasland was the really big one, IIRC.)

    Even though Endron apparently bought out Atlas International in Book of the Wyrm 2nd ed, I'm going to save them for later, as the nuclear power industry is its own animal, and it gets into things like, for example, General Electric, which is pretty complicated.

    ADDED: Steve Coil's Private Empire: Exxon Mobil and American Power, a look at what is one of (if not the) biggest corporations in the US and some of it's various shenanigans. Also, Daniel Ammann's The King of Oil: The Secret Lives of Marc Rich, a man who's somewhat shady and occasionally weird life has a lot of potential plot hooks for Endron and PENTEX.

    Added 3-11: For those looking for something odd to do with Endron, I offer up the 1976 remake of King Kong. The film is, quite frankly, awful, but for the purpose of this list, the plot involves an oil company (named Petrox, which makes me wonder if this is the original inspiration for PENTEX's name) making an expedition to an uncharted island in the Indian Ocean in search of untapped oil deposits. The oil they find is low grade junk, so they decide to bring Kong back as their new company mascot. That's kind of the 70s in a nutshell, I think. But it does offer the interesting idea of an Endron expedition that finds a lost island full of Mokole, Ananasi, Kami, and one of the Great Beasts.


    More to come.
    Last edited by No One of Consequence; 03-11-2018, 04:41 PM.

  • Logothétēs
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • Fat Larry
    replied
    Just finished rewatching the entire Jurassic Park franchise.

    Ingen really does make for a PERFECT Pentex subsidiary.

    Leave a comment:


  • No One of Consequence
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • No One of Consequence
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • Bluecho
    replied
    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.

    Leave a comment:


  • Logothétēs
    replied
    Originally posted by No One of Consequence View Post
    Anastagio's Old Time Lunar Carnival and Midnight Circus

    So, not a part of PENTEX, but still tied to the Wyrm, so I thought it'd make a nice change of pace. (I'm also going to do the Enlightened Society of the Weeping Moon at some point, along with other independent cults.)

    So, the Midnight Circus is a bit of an odd duck. There's a fair amount of good ideas and potential stuff to use, but I'm generally of the opinion that it's just a bit overly crowded and unfocused. That aside, circuses and carnivals work really well in the World of Darkness and Werewolf. It is a place for "unusual" people to find a home away from conventional society, is full of a lot of enchantment and mystery (as well as possible corruption), and can end up touching on various issues that fit well with the various games (the treatment of animals in Werewolf, just to use one example).

    PBS's American Experience series has a four hour documentary on the history of the circus in the United States, titled The Circus: Big Tent, Big Dreams. It's available streaming online. Also interesting is The Show of Shows: 100 Years of Vaudeville, Circuses and Carnivals, assembled from a huge amount of footage, including the home movies of a number of circus families.
    Bookwise, Jerry Apps's Ringlingville USA is a good account of the origins and history of the Ringling Brothers and their circus. Also of note is Linda Simon's The Greatest Shows on Earth, about the history of circuses starting in 18th century Britain and France. Pascal Jacob's Circus: A Visual History is a really fascinating collection of historical artwork and a history of circuses going back to wandering animal trainers of the Dark Ages era. Stewart O'Nan's The Circus Fire is the account of the 1944 fire at Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus which killed 167 people, while Richard Lytle's The Great Circus Train Wreck of 1918 is about the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus train derailment that killed 86 members of the company. (If you want to do a traveling circus in Wraith's Shadowlands, both are a good source for background inspiration.) I've not read Tessa Fontaine's memoir The Electric Woman, about her life as a carnival member, but I've been told it's pretty good. Likewise Tiny Kline's memoir Circus Queen and Tinker Bell. And if you can actually find a copy, Games You Can't Lose: A Guide for Suckers by the late Harry Anderson (a long time professional magician as well as actor) talks a bit about how a lot of carnival games work and how they are engineered to be so difficult to win.

    In the realm of fiction, if you've never read Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes, you really should. The 1983 film adaption by Disney (back when they still did films like that) is also worth watching. Erin Morganstern's The Night Circus is also a really good read. (Even if you don't care anything about the Midnight Circus and the Wyrm, both make excellent inspiration for Changeling and Mage.)
    Dean Koontz has written two carnival related novels. The best of the two is Twilight Eyes. The other one, The Funhouse, is also not bad. The former is especially fitting for a number of Werewolf's setting elements.
    Neil Gaiman's short story "The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch" is very much worth reading. There is a graphic novel adaption with artwork by Michael Zulli. The two have also worked together on The Last Temptation, a graphic novel based on the Alice Cooper album of the same name, which is also very suitable for the Midnight Circus and its trade in souls.
    Obviously, American Horror Story: Freak Show has a lot to offer in terms of historical inspiration, twisted and damaged characters, and carnival folklore. I also really recommend tracking down one of the early episodes of HBO's Tales from the Crypt, "Dig That Cat ... He's Real Gone", about a carnival daredevil who literally has nine lives.
    The Circus of Dr. Lao by Charles G. Finney is an interesting read, and it has a decent 1964 film adaptation The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao.
    Two anthologies, Circus: Fantasy Under the Big Top (edited by Ekaterina Sedia) and CarniePunk both have a lot of interesting ideas that one can lift for WoD circus/carnival stories.
    Way back in the 70s, before anyone had ever heard of him, Clive Barker apparently wrote an odd little book called Mr. Maximillian Bacchus and His Traveling Circus. However, it was only eventually released in a limited print run, and copies are expensive and hard to find. (If you do ebooks, it's available on Kindle.)
    Finally, somewhat off the beaten path (and something I am a little disappointed wasn't used for inspiration in Midnight Circus) is Knightriders (1981) a film by George Romero (yes, the Night of the Living Dead guy) about a troupe of RenFair/carnival performers who do tradition jousting tournaments on motorcycles. (The film is kind of weird in that way certain films of that period were, but it is worth a look, especially if you are a Changeling fan, as a good deal of its plot and themes fit aspects of that game really well.)

    (There's also a number of books I've not read but would like to as they seem fitting: HP Wood's Magruder's Curiosity Cabinet; Alice Hoffman's The Museum of Extraordinary Things; Katharine Dunn's Geek Love; and Angela Carter's Nights at the Circus)

    In a modern, corprorate context I'd imagine a Pentex-owned Midnight Circus as something of an evil version of Cirque du Soleil and Circus Vargas. With an unusually high turnover/injury rate for performers.

    Leave a comment:


  • No One of Consequence
    replied
    Anastagio's Old Time Lunar Carnival and Midnight Circus

    So, not a part of PENTEX, but still tied to the Wyrm, so I thought it'd make a nice change of pace. (I'm also going to do the Enlightened Society of the Weeping Moon at some point, along with other independent cults.)

    So, the Midnight Circus is a bit of an odd duck. There's a fair amount of good ideas and potential stuff to use, but I'm generally of the opinion that it's just a bit overly crowded and unfocused. That aside, circuses and carnivals work really well in the World of Darkness and Werewolf. It is a place for "unusual" people to find a home away from conventional society, is full of a lot of enchantment and mystery (as well as possible corruption), and can end up touching on various issues that fit well with the various games (the treatment of animals in Werewolf, just to use one example).

    PBS's American Experience series has a four hour documentary on the history of the circus in the United States, titled The Circus: Big Tent, Big Dreams. It's available streaming online. Also interesting is The Show of Shows: 100 Years of Vaudeville, Circuses and Carnivals, assembled from a huge amount of footage, including the home movies of a number of circus families.
    Bookwise, Jerry Apps's Ringlingville USA is a good account of the origins and history of the Ringling Brothers and their circus. Also of note is Linda Simon's The Greatest Shows on Earth, about the history of circuses starting in 18th century Britain and France. Pascal Jacob's Circus: A Visual History is a really fascinating collection of historical artwork and a history of circuses going back to wandering animal trainers of the Dark Ages era. Stewart O'Nan's The Circus Fire is the account of the 1944 fire at Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus which killed 167 people, while Richard Lytle's The Great Circus Train Wreck of 1918 is about the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus train derailment that killed 86 members of the company. (If you want to do a traveling circus in Wraith's Shadowlands, both are a good source for background inspiration.) I've not read Tessa Fontaine's memoir The Electric Woman, about her life as a carnival member, but I've been told it's pretty good. Likewise Tiny Kline's memoir Circus Queen and Tinker Bell. And if you can actually find a copy, Games You Can't Lose: A Guide for Suckers by the late Harry Anderson (a long time professional magician as well as actor) talks a bit about how a lot of carnival games work and how they are engineered to be so difficult to win.

    In the realm of fiction, if you've never read Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes, you really should. The 1983 film adaption by Disney (back when they still did films like that) is also worth watching. Erin Morganstern's The Night Circus is also a really good read. (Even if you don't care anything about the Midnight Circus and the Wyrm, both make excellent inspiration for Changeling and Mage.)
    Dean Koontz has written two carnival related novels. The best of the two is Twilight Eyes. The other one, The Funhouse, is also not bad. The former is especially fitting for a number of Werewolf's setting elements.
    Neil Gaiman's short story "The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch" is very much worth reading. There is a graphic novel adaption with artwork by Michael Zulli. The two have also worked together on The Last Temptation, a graphic novel based on the Alice Cooper album of the same name, which is also very suitable for the Midnight Circus and its trade in souls.
    Obviously, American Horror Story: Freak Show has a lot to offer in terms of historical inspiration, twisted and damaged characters, and carnival folklore. I also really recommend tracking down one of the early episodes of HBO's Tales from the Crypt, "Dig That Cat ... He's Real Gone", about a carnival daredevil who literally has nine lives.
    The Circus of Dr. Lao by Charles G. Finney is an interesting read, and it has a decent 1964 film adaptation The 7 Faces of Dr. Lao.
    Two anthologies, Circus: Fantasy Under the Big Top (edited by Ekaterina Sedia) and CarniePunk both have a lot of interesting ideas that one can lift for WoD circus/carnival stories.
    Way back in the 70s, before anyone had ever heard of him, Clive Barker apparently wrote an odd little book called Mr. Maximillian Bacchus and His Traveling Circus. However, it was only eventually released in a limited print run, and copies are expensive and hard to find. (If you do ebooks, it's available on Kindle.)
    Finally, somewhat off the beaten path (and something I am a little disappointed wasn't used for inspiration in Midnight Circus) is Knightriders (1981) a film by George Romero (yes, the Night of the Living Dead guy) about a troupe of RenFair/carnival performers who do tradition jousting tournaments on motorcycles. (The film is kind of weird in that way certain films of that period were, but it is worth a look, especially if you are a Changeling fan, as a good deal of its plot and themes fit aspects of that game really well.)

    (There's also a number of books I've not read but would like to as they seem fitting: HP Wood's Magruder's Curiosity Cabinet; Alice Hoffman's The Museum of Extraordinary Things; Katharine Dunn's Geek Love; and Angela Carter's Nights at the Circus)

    Leave a comment:


  • No One of Consequence
    replied
    Mail Order Bride Services

    Since it came up elsewhere, a brief bit on the subject. The Today I Found Out channel on You Tube has a video giving a good overview of the subject. The book they mention is Buying a Bride: An Engaging History of Mail Order Matches by Marcia A. Zug. A few books about specific historical periods include The Jamestown Brides by Jennifer Potter, about the 56 women sent to the English colony in 1621, and Hearts West: True Stories of Mail-Order Brides on the Frontier by Chris Enss, about the practice in the Wild West. The former offers an interesting perspective of the period when the European Garou Nation was having its first major encounters with the Pure Land tribes, while the latter is a useful source on the subject for Werewolf: The Wild West.
    There's not much in the way of horror or suspense fiction on the subject. But there is a massive amount of romance novels based on frontier mail order brides.
    The practice could very easily be used as a method of matching Garou with potential Kinfolk mates. Or, on a darker path, a way to lure victims for Black Spiral Dancers, the creation of Ferectoi, vampire ghouls, and other bad ends. (Alternately, the mail order brides could be trolling for potential victims.)
    (From a Mage perspective, its entirely possible that the Progenitors - or Iteration X for those that have read the original Stepford Wives novel by Ira Levin - might create a line of engineered "perfect partners" to match up with wealthy people of influence to act as spies and influencers - or to serve as Acolytes for Syndicate members.)

    Leave a comment:


  • Logothétēs
    replied
    Y' know, one thing that really surprised me is that Pentex doesn't seem to own a big-shot banking institution. Now, Consolidex is one thing, but a huge investment bank like JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and (especially) HSBC is another. Not only would such a firm bring in a shiton of cash, but the oportunities to spread corruption and suffering via money laundering, backing of 3rd world dictators, predatory lending, debt buying and enabling housing bubbles (no doubt in partnership with Pentex real estate & construction firms) would be enormous.

    See the movie The International as well as HSBC's real-life dubious double-dealings with Mexican drug barons for inspiration.
    Last edited by Logothétēs; 08-26-2019, 07:00 PM.

    Leave a comment:


  • Reasor
    replied
    The annual football championship game, the Super Bowl, remains the most watched event in American television. The game is the most important event of the year for the advertising industry, and an unmeasurable chunk of the audience watch just for the ads.

    The size of American football’s TV audience has been hit hardest on the Monday night broadcasts, where it has to compete with pro wrestling. Sure enough, the World of Darkness has its own pro wrestling league, whose champion is a masked Nosferatu named El Diablo Verde. I don’t know precisely who is supposed to own it, but Pentex at least has a “training camp” that sends its “steroid” enhanced grapplers to compete there.
    Last edited by Reasor; 08-18-2019, 09:43 PM.

    Leave a comment:


  • No One of Consequence
    replied
    Professional Football (the American kind)

    So, I'm not really much of a sports person. Which is part of why this post has taken so long. The other part being that "professional sports" ended up being such a sprawling entity that I had to break it up into individual sports. Starting with professional (American/gridiron) football and the NFL/National Football League.

    The NFL goes back to 1920, formed by teams in Ohio and quickly joined by ones from Indiana, Illinois, and New York. (Only two of those teams still exist, the Chicago Bears and the Arizona Cardinals, originally from Stanley IL and Chicago, respectively.) There were several competing leagues, but by the 1950s, the NFL was essentially a monopoly in the US. This changed in 1960 with the American Football League. The AFL gained a number of good TV deals and was able to start bidding against the NFL for talent. By the end of the decade, the two leagues had decided to merge, effectively reestablishing the monopoly. The league has continued to grow over the decades, with attendance increasing by orders of magnitude, huge television deals, and billions in annual merchandise sales. However, attendance numbers and television viewership seems to have seen a decline over the past couple of years.

    John Eisenburg's The League is a good look at the early history of the NFL and how hard it had to work to make professional football as popular as it ended up being. (Back then, baseball, boxing and horse racing tended to be the big things.) There's also Joe Horrigan's NFL Century and Jeff Miller's history of the AFL, Going Long. There's also David Harris's The League: Inside the NFL, which was written in 1986, offering a fascinating window into that era, especially the near soap-opera levels of intrigue and backstabbing among the team owners. From a more technical side of things is Michael Lewis's The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game. The book is both about how offensive football strategy has changed over the past several decades and a biography of football player Michael Oher. (The movie adaption focuses almost entirely on Oher.)

    One of the biggest issues in football - and most contact sports - over the past decade is the issue of concussions. Dr. Bennet Omalu was one of the early advocates of the issue. Play Hard, Die Young was his first book about the subject. More recent is Truth Doesn't Have a Side. Jeanne Marie Laskas's Concussion is about Dr. Omalu and his research/advocacy. It's also the basis for the 2015 film with Will Smith. Another book on the subject is League of Denial by Mark Fainaru-Wada and Steve Fainaru. (To be fair, Dr. Omalu's findings and opinions were initially something of an outlier, and it's something of a historical constant that in situations like this, where one expert is saying one thing and several others are saying something different, for the minority report to be disregarded. But he was able to convince more and more neuroscientists about his findings, and the League was forced to admit that, yet, he was definitely on to something. Something very similar happened over the causes of malaria during the building of the Panama Canal.) Depending on how one likes to run their settings, it's entirely possible in the World of Darkness that the issue is still being denied by professional sports leagues, either just for monetary reasons or, if you want to take it that far, because something about brain injuries makes people better subjects for some PENTEX project.

    The other issue with professional football tends to be the off-field behavior of its star athletes. Besides various sex and drug scandals (including a Minnesota Vikings sex cruise and the Dallas Cowboys' Super Bowl drug parties), there's stuff like Michael Vick organizing a dog fighting ring, Ray Rice beating his fiancé-later-wife unconscious in a hotel elevator, Josh Brent's DUI-manslaughter conviction, Adam Jones's alleged involvement in two different night club shootings, and Aaron Hernandez apparently having a habit of murdering people. And with a PENTEX owned team, these are probably seen as career enhancers.

    Teams themselves are also accused of shady behavior. The various cheating allegations against the New England Patriots was almost a running joke at one point. The New Orleans Saints were alleged to be offering their players bounty money to try to deliberately injure players on opposing teams. And the Miami Dolphins apparently had a really bad problem with locker room bullying. This sort of thing is likely business as usual with a PENTEX owned team.

    Fiction-wise, I mentioned Mike Lupica's novel Bump & Run previously, and I'll mention it again, as it is a good read and has a number of ideas if you want to try making a PENTEX football team. Even better is Peter Gent's North Dallas Forty, about the seamer side of pro football in the 1970s (Gent actually played for the Cowboys). It was made into a 1979 film with Nick Note, which sadly I've never seen. His book The Franchise is also incredibly fitting for this. Dan Jenkins's Semi-Tough is also worth a read, and also has a film version (1977, with Burt Reynolds). Oliver Stone's Any Given Sunday (1999) is probably one of his lesser known works, but its a good film in its own right, and very good for this subject. And, tangentially, there is Black Sunday, about a terrorist attack on the Super Bowl, by Thomas Harris (the guy who wrote all the Hannibal Lector novels).

    ADDED: Other leagues.

    While the NFL (and briefly the AFL) have been the mainstay of American style football, a number of other leagues have come and gone over the years in futile efforts to break the monopoly. Even the NFL tried its hand at a developmental league, the World League of American football, back in 1989. In 1998, it was rebranded as NFL Europe, and finally folded in 2007. About the only book I've ever found about it is Lars Anderson's The Proving Ground.

    In the early 80s, there was the United States Football League, which aimed to have its season in the summer, in-between NFL seasons. By most accounts, they put out a decent product and seemed poised to potentially be a solid second tier league. Then someone had the bright idea of having them compete directly against the NFL as part of a plan to try and force a merger (the way the AFL had, and the American Basketball League had done with the NBA). Apparently, one of the major advocates of this idea was New Jersey Generals majority owner Donald Trump. The other part of the plan was to sue the NFL for anti-monopoly violations. The USFL won, and received the settlement of ... a dollar. After that, the league was effectively dead. Jeff Pearlman's Football for a Buck is one of the better accounts of the entire thing. There's also Jim Byrne's The $1 League, which is out of print.

    The other major one was the XFL, the brainchild and creation of World Wrestling Federation/Entertainment owner Vince MacMahon. It only lasted for a single season. However, there are apparently some plans to try to revive it in the next few years. There aren't really any good books about the XFL, but for two different takes on the experiment, there's Brian Zane's Wrestling With Wregret video and Company Man's comparison of the XFL and NFL, both on YouTube.

    North of the border, there is the Canadian Football League, which I confess to knowing next to nothing about. They've been around since the late 1950s, and briefly tried and failed to expand into the United States during the early 90s. The rules are slightly different, with a longer field, 12 players per team on the field instead of 11, and three downs instead of four. There doesn't seem to be much about the CFL out there. Michael Januska's Grey Cup Century is about the first hundred years of the League's main trophy (originally for rugby), and Ed Willes's End Zones and Border Wars is about the failed US expansion.

    Finally, there's the Arena Football League, which originated in the 1980s as "faster paced" indoor football with a smaller field and different rules. In spite of the league's relative longevity, there's not much out there about them either. However, AMC ran a one season docuseries, 4th and Loud, about the Los Angeles KISS, whose owners included band members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. Sadly, the team folded after a year. Curiously, there is a China Arena Football League. So if you are running a Beast Courts game set in China, it might be something unusual to incorporate. (The Wuhan team is called the Gators, which makes me picture a young Zhong Lung decked out in memorabilia.)

    And speaking of memorabilia, all NFL merchandising and licensing is handled by NFL Properties, a subsidiary company of the league created for the purpose. They develop the team mascots, negotiate all deals for officially licensed products, and anything else that has to do with branded merchandise. This sort of business is big money, and crosses over into clothing manufacturing, toy making, comic books, and other industries already covered in this thread. So, if you were a holding company that owned controlling interest in all these various enterprises, it's easy to create a synergistic cycle keeping everything in the family. One of the most curious bits of NFL licensing was the collaboration with Marvel Comics to create NFL Superpro. A review of said enterprise from Linkara/AT4W can be found here. A better take on the idea was Marvel's New Universe's Kickers Inc., whose main character's origin could easily be twisted into some sort of weird Project Iliad super soldier project involving professional athletes.

    Last edited by No One of Consequence; 08-18-2019, 09:09 PM.

    Leave a comment:


  • Illithid
    replied
    Originally posted by No One of Consequence View Post
    I'm kind of surprised that Rust isn't a major Bone Gnawer totem. Or maybe one for certain Red Talons or other lupus who skulk on the edges of human civilization looking for ways to make it rot away.
    Rust would be a totem of the Wyrm.
    Probably the pre-corruption, everything needs to be broken down and destroyed Wyrm, not Corruption-Wyrm that we have now. But Rot and Rust would not be good for Gaian Totems.

    *Although, I have been mulling around concepts for wolves that want to fix the Triat. Ironically, I think that the best solution (in game) to the riddle of a broken Triat is to embrace the pre-corruption Wyrm and Destroy a lot of the world so that things can get back in balance.
    A Totem like Rust could assist in that

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  • No One of Consequence
    replied
    MOTORCYCLES

    Generally - and legally - speaking, motorcycle refers to any powered two wheeled vehicle. In addition to what most people think of when they hear the word, it also includes scooters and most three wheeled vehicles (such as traditional powered trikes and the more modern reverse models like the Can-Am Spyder). Because they tend to be cheaper and more fuel efficient than cars, as well as easier and cheeper to maintain than a lot of modern computer-enhanced autos, they are popular and prevalent in much of South and East Asia. An estimated 58% of the world's motorcycles are in Asia. Scooter type vehicles also have a high level of popularity in Europe, again because of fuel efficiency, but probably also owing to the fact that they're easier to navigate through the Continent's older urban areas that were never really designed with cars in mind. (Issues of Europe's post war economy and population density also come in to play.)

    Environmentally, while motorcycles are more fuel efficient than cars, they do have a down side of often having worse exhaust emissions. Sometimes ten times the level of carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons. And, obviously, this contributes to the problem of air pollution in Asian cities. (When the Olympics were held in China, there was a joke about the smog being so bad that javelins were getting stuck in the air during the track and field events. Though I'm pretty sure this was recycled from when the games were held in LA in 1984.)
    Motorcycles also have the issue of being more dangerous than cars, with the US Dept. of Transportation estimating fatality levels as 37 times higher than automobiles.

    Globally, the three biggest motorcycle manufacturers are Honda and Yamaha (from Japan) and Hero MotoCorp (from India). But when you mention motorcycles in the United States, most people think of Harley-Davidson. Harley-Davidson was founded in 1903 in Milwaukee, and is one of the only two US motorcycle companies to have survived the Great Depression. (The other was Indian.) They're still headquartered and have one of their manufacturing plants there, which means that if you're doing something with Milwaukee by Night (or would it be Rage Across Wisconsin?), then it's a possible plot hook. They also have a plant in Manaus, Brazil, for possible Rage Across the Amazon involvement, and have just opened on in Thailand, if you're doing a Beast Courts chronicle.

    Modern Marvels has an episode on motorcycles (6-43), and one about Harley-Davidson (10-24).

    The YouTube channel Company Man has videos about Harley-Davidson and about Yamaha.

    The Discover Channel made a three part miniseries about the founding of Harley-Davidson, Harley and the Davidsons (2016), which is available on DVD. However, like a lot of these things, it apparently fudges a few of its facts in places.

    David Wright's The Harley-Davidsons Motor Company: A 100 Year History is more of one of those coffee table books, but has a lot of interesting photos and historical trivia. There's also Growing Up Harley-Davidson, the memoirs of Jean Davidson, granddaughter of one of the company founders.


    Internationally, Jeffery Alexander's Japan's Motorcycle Wars is an interesting overview of that nation's industry history and corporate culture.

    A big part of Harley-Davidson is their corporate branding, putting their logo on an endless array of clothing and other merchandise, often with various levels of popularity among non-riders/owners of motorcycles. (Back about 15 or 20 years ago, I can remember seeing t-shirts that said "I own a Harley-Davidson, not just a t-shirt" or something to that effect, as a sort of backlash against this sort of thing by serious bikers.) With a PENTEX motorcycle company, this is a win-win, as in addition to people paying to advertise your product on their bodies, it allows for synergy with all the other PENTEX companies - clothing manufacturers, plastics, toy companies, video game designers, etc.

    Motorcycles are, of course, also heavily associated in the public consciousness with various motorcycle gangs, ranging from simple juvenile delinquent types to hard core criminal organizations. If you've never seen The Wild One (1953) with a young Marlin Brando, it's worse watching. Likewise, Hunter S. Thompson's Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga, about his spending about two years with the California based gang in the 1960s. More recently, there's Sons of Anarchy (2008 - 2014). There's also a raft of true crime books out there about motorcycle gangs. Jay Dobyns's No Angel and Charles Falco's Vagos Mongols and Outlaws are two of the more famous. There's also Arthur Veno's The Brotherhoods, about motorcycle clubs in Australia. Japan has its own motorcycle culture, Bosozuku, which are kind of hard to find books about in English. Karl Taro Greenfield's Speed Tribes, which has a chapter about biker gangs, is twenty years old at this point (but still worth reading). However photographer Masayuki Yoshinaga has a rather nice book about the subculture, simply titled Bosozuku.

    From more of a parody perspective, the South Park episode "The F-Word" (13-12) presents the sort of obnoxious over the top stereotype that a PENTEX motorcycle company would consider its ideal customer. Especially the idea of rampant noise pollution and general anti-social behavior.

    Finally, a bit about off-road dirt biking. It has a tradition of causing certain levels of environmental damage. Tire ruts that turn into erosive gullies during rain, the damage to plant life, the potential spreading of invasive weed seeds, frightening local wild life and so on. (This is true of a lot of off-road type activities, so I'll probably do a more in depth bit about it at some future date.) This is the sort of thing that could be a potential irritant or even outright threat to a Caern's surrounding territory, with some members - especially, say, Red Talons or more hard line environmentalists camps - wanting to deal with it violently. (And inspiration for that kind of thing can be found in various films, such as the original The Hills Have Eyes Part II from 1984 or 2002's Eight Legged Freaks.) Odds are that outdoor off-road motorsports in the World of Darkness get a lot of sponsorship from PENTEX companies.

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  • No One of Consequence
    replied
    So, this weekend, I will finally have the motorcycle post up. And by either Wed or Sun after that, I'll have the popularly demanded entry for professional sports.

    Meanwhile, I've been reading Jonathon Waldman's Rust: The Longest War, about the subject of corrosion and mankind's eternal (and somewhat in vain) effort to stop it. It's a rather broad subject, looking at everything from the 1980s Statue of Liberty restoration (and just how bad of shape it was in) to artists who sneak into condemned factories to take pictures of interesting rust. One chapter of particular interest here is about the canning industry and just how it coats its cans to keep them from corroding and rupturing. (A lot of food items are pretty acidic and therefore corrosive, including sodas.) The coatings are made from plastics, so this sort of industry is a convergence point for all the issues of Harold & Harold Mining, Rainbow Plastics, Young & Smith, and other industries. (The company highlighted began acting incredibly paranoid about Waldman's questions and interest, which didn't make them look at all suspicious in any way.)
    Also, given how powerful and all pervasive rust and other corrosion is in the world, I'm kind of surprised that Rust isn't a major Bone Gnawer totem. Or maybe one for certain Red Talons or other lupus who skulk on the edges of human civilization looking for ways to make it rot away.
    Last edited by No One of Consequence; 07-18-2019, 07:45 PM.

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